EAST OAKLAND (CBS SF) — A “mega” crematorium that would cremate 3,600 or more bodies a year planned for a low-income neighborhood could lead to increased pollution, according to community leaders rallying against the Neptune Society’s planned facility at City Hall Tuesday night.
The Oakland City Council is considering what to do about the much-litigated proposal that neighbors, churches, and the group Communities For A Better Environment say is not compatible with the future of a “green and sustainable” neighborhood.
Crematorium owners plan to move from their Emeryville location to 98th Avenue and Kitty Lane near the airport and received a permit in 2012.
City planners categorized it as “light industrial activity” but later, the facility was stopped by an emergency ordinance passed after horrified residents learned of the plans. The Neptune Society sued and won last year, with the court saying they had already received a building permit and the law can’t be applied retroactively.
In a statement to CBS SF, The Neptune Society’s Margaret Hambrick said they have, “…complied with all applicable City of Oakland and Bay Area Air Quality Management District requirements in connection with the planned crematorium. … The Bay Area Air Quality Management District gave its approval and imposed conditions in 2011 after preparing a health risk assessment that determined any health risks associated with the facility were within acceptable levels.”
She added, “The planned facility will use state-of-the-art equipment and will be located farther from residential uses than the existing facility [in Emeryville] and all other cremation facilities operating in the City of Oakland.”
Communities For A Better Environment’s Nile Malloy said in a news release, “The future of East Oakland is that of a green and sustainable neighborhood. Stewart Enterprise’s [The Neptune Society’s] proposed crematorium, which will burn up to 10 cadavers a day in a low-income community of color already over-saturated with pollution, is a major obstacle to this future.”
The city is now considering an appeal to stop the facility from being built.