In October 2015, a funeral home in Middletown, Pennsylvania applied for a permit with the Department Environmental Protection (“DEP”) in order to establish a crematory in its garage. In compliance with state law, the funeral home correctly notified Middletown borough’s code and zoning officer of its intent to establish a crematory. The application is then reviewed within 30 days of receipt to make sure it is complete. If it is complete, then the DEP commences a technical review, and if the inspection reveals no technical issues, then the DEP drafts a proposal, which is submitted to the PA Bulletin for public comment.
The funeral home is acting in accordance with Pennsylvania law, which requires that
Every undertaker or proprietor or person in charge of any crematory or furnace or place where any human corpse shall or may be cremated or incinerated, shall, before removing any such corpse to, or receiving any such corpse at, such crematory, furnace or place for cremating or incinerating the same, obtain a permit to cremate or incinerate such corpse from the board or department of health or local health authorities of the city or locality within which such crematory furnace or place is situate. 35 Pa. Stat. Ann. § 1121 (West).
Some local citizens are concerned that the crematory will cause odors, toxins, and noise. However, DEP’s crematorium regulations establish requirements that a crematory must comply with, such as limiting the amount of pollutants it can emit (p.2) and prohibiting a crematory from emitting odors “in such a manner that the malodors are detectable outside the property of the permittee as specified in 25 Pa. Code § 123.31 (relating to odor emissions).” (p.6) Additionally, a crematory must maintain records of “visible emission observations and any corrective actions” as well as the number of cremations performed. (p.5).