Mercury Abatement in Crematoria – are you ready for the 2020 deadline?


As a signatory to the Oslo-Paris Commission (OSPAR) agreement on eliminating mercury emissions from crematoria, the UK agreed to reduce 50% mercury emissions from crematoria by 2012. But by 2020 all crematoria within the UK (roughly 240 facilities) will need to have a zero emissions rate.  This means local councils and private organisations which run crematoria will need to either install entirely new cremation equipment, and/or integrate mercury abatement systems.

When dental amalgam is incinerated, Mercury is emitted into the air from the incinerator stack.  This can then be inhaled, or deposited, via rain into seas and rivers, accumulating in the aquatic food chain and potentially ending up on our plates. As Mercury is linked to damage to the brain, nervous system and fertility problems, it was a serious issue that needed addressing.

In 2010 Vitruvius was appointed by Gloucester City Council to manage the overall project, construction and cost of a Mercury Abatement Programme at Gloucester Crematorium.

The project involved accessing the existing equipment by taking the roof off the back of the crematorium and installing the new filtration plant through a sliding roof.  Components and services were sourced from all over Europe.

The Council used the upgrade of the Crematorium as an opportunity to create an innovative tea room and wake facility, which both generate funds and help retain business as the Crematorium is now able to offer a complete funeral package.  Alongside the wake facility, a stunning water feature and oak structure to cover flowers and wreaths was also built, together with a full overhaul of the public realm infrastructure.

The key thing for any Local Authority is to get value for money and Vitruvius achieved that through budgetary savings and effective management of risk. Advice and updates were always pitched at the correct level, never patronising or complicated.Gloucester City Council

If you’re looking to commit to 100% reduction in Mercury emissions by 2020, it might be worth considering the following:

  • If building works are required, take the opportunity to re-assess the requirements of your service. This is the time to include other improvements if possible, it will be more cost effective when building works are being carried out on site.
  • Do you have suitable office space with room to interview the public in private? Do you have sufficient and satisfactory mess room facilities? Do you have disabled access and toilet facilities?
  • What space do you need? Allow for access and space for the ongoing maintenance that will be required for the plant and have this built into the design.
  • Involve your architect, technical services department, environmental health and make sure you have the necessary planning permissions if you are going to add to the building.
  • Once you know what is going to be required you can then obtain a budget cost and add this to the cost of the equipment.
  • If you are changing the way in which you operate, you may be considering holding coffins overnight. If so you will need a suitable storage area that is secure, racked and at the very least, air conditioned.
  • With all the new equipment required to comply with the regulations, space in older buildings will be at a premium.  The Work Place regulations will also need to be considered for people working in the crematorium.

Give Vitruvius a call, we can help you through the process.

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