Weatherford Democrat

July 27, 2011

City council approves permit for crematorium

Crystal Brown
Weatherford Democrat

WEATHERFORD — After an agreement to remove teeth with fillings from the deceased, the Weatherford City Council approved a conditional use permit for a crematorium.

The permit was previously approved by the planning and zoning board in a 6-1 vote. After the board’s decision, the city received two verbal and one written response opposing the crematory, citing concerns of mercury. The concern is that when bodies’ amalgam fillings are cremated, the filling vaporizes and the mercury contained in it is released into the atmosphere.

Galbreaith-Pickard Funeral Chapel manager James Plowman addressed this concern during the public hearing Tuesday evening. Following an editorial piece written by Sherrie Bays in the July 11 edition of the Democrat, Plowman started researching more about the potential for mercury emissions.

He found a case in Colorado where a test showed a crematorium that performed 500 cremations a year produced about a “sugar cube’s” worth of mercury. In another report, he found the EPA found 0 percent mercury on average.

“That could also mean less than half a percent,” he said. “But this is where I live. The winds are out of the southeast, so the person at most risk is me.”

Plowman’s home sits directly northwest of the crematory’s future location.

“But if it’s a concern, I’m willing to make it part of our policy to remove those fillings,” he told the council.

Couts Christian Academy school board member Juli Greene said she was happy Plowman offered to remove the deceased’s teeth before cremation.

“Our concern at this point is we have to represent the children coming to the school, and the questions the parents could have about if this could be detrimental to their children,” she said. Removing the teeth “is a compromise so we can ensure our parents.”

No one spoke in opposition of the crematorium during Tuesday’s public hearing.

In other business the council:

n Approved the city’s financial management policy statements.

n Awarded a concrete bid to A-1 Concrete, Inc. for work on the First Monday improvement project in an amount not to exceed $80,006.80.