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Lawsuit Alleges East Oakland Air Too Polluted To Allow Crematorium

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An example of the work at a crematorium in Mass. Human ashes cool as crematory operator Joe Bancewicz prepares a retort, or cremation ovens, at Mount Auburn Cemetary February 21, 2002 in Watertown, MA. The cemetary has been performing cremations for 100 years and does about 900 per year. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

An example of the work at a crematorium in Mass. Human ashes cool as crematory operator Joe Bancewicz prepares a retort, or cremation ovens, at Mount Auburn Cemetary February 21, 2002 in Watertown, MA. The cemetary has been performing cremations for 100 years and does about 900 per year. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

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OAKLAND (KCBS) – The Neptune Society’s plan to build a crematorium in East Oakland has raised concerns that an area already choked by poor air quality will have to contend with yet another source of pollution.

“The 880 freeway runs through this part of East Oakland. The international airport is right there. We have large industrial facilities like metal foundries,” said Shana Lazerow, a staff attorney at Communities for a Better Environment.

The group has filed a lawsuit to keep the crematorium out, alleging city officials acted improperly when they issued a permit for a general manufacturing facility, a classification that does not require a public hearing for conditional use permits to be approved.

“Adding a new pollution source that actually is pretty distinct in the social impact it’s going to have, with no notice to the community, is a really, really big problem,” Lazerow said.

The suit seeks to compel the city to put the crematorium through a more rigorous permitting process that looks at how the facility would address potential pollutants such as mercury from dental fillings, as well as other contaminants emitted by the stacks.

A spokesman for the Oakland City Attorney declined to comment on the lawsuit, and calls to the Neptune Society of Northern California went unreturned.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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