State panel urges tighter crematory controls

A task force assembled by Gov. John Lynch’s has recommended a series of regulatory changes that will tighten the state’s control over crematories.
The Crematory Task Group, formed in February after the discovery of several violations at an unlicensed crematory in Seabrook, says the state should require the licensing of crematory owners, the regulation of crematories through the state board that also covers funeral directors and regular inspections of crematories. The state also should make changes in regulations to ensure the proper identity of remains.
“Like many New Hampshire citizens, I was deeply disturbed by the discoveries at the Bayview crematorium in Seabrook. Families coping with the loss of a loved one should know that their family members will be treated with respect and dignity,” Lynch said in announcing the panel’s recommendations.
He said he will “work closely with the Legislature to implement these recommendations so that families will know that cremations in New Hampshire are conducted respectfully and carefully.”
Among the key recommendations:
o Although, funeral directors and embalmers are currently licensed, crematory owners are not. Instead, the Department of Health and Human Services and local officials must approve plans prior to construction, and HHS must inspect the crematory and approve its use after construction. The task group recommends that New Hampshire law be amended to provide for the licensing of crematory owners through the state board governing funeral directors and embalmers.
Under the Task Group’s recommendations, the board would be granted rule-making authority relative to the construction of crematories; the inspection and licensing of crematories; the operation of crematories; educational and training requirements for crematory operators; and receiving and investigating complaints.
o To ensure that unlicensed facilities do not operate in the state , the task group recommended a number of new safeguards, including on-site posting of crematory licenses, requiring any person who transports human remains to a crematory to possess a copy of the valid and unexpired crematory license and public dissemination of any denial, suspension, revocation or non-renewal of a crematory license.
o The state Board of Registration of Funeral Directors and Embalmers should establish routine and comprehensive inspections of crematoriums, taking place at least every two to three years.
o Strengthen consumer protection laws to prohibit the commingling of cremated remains; require a non-combustible body tag identification system; add education and training requirements for crematory operators; create an enhanced enforcement system for addressing unacceptable operations at a crematory; and require mandatory compliance testing for public health, occupational health and environmental standards. – JEFF FEINGOLD

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