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Body liquefier proves busted flush; Council refused licence to put fluid from 'water cremations' down the drain.

Byline: Jane Tyler News reporter

ABLACK Country crematorium wants to become the first in the UK to dissolve dead bodies and flush them down the drain. But Sandwell Council's plans have been stopped in their tracks after Severn Trent refused to give them a permit.

Under the pioneering scheme, Rowley Regis Crematorium would be the first in the country to offer families a water cremation.

It argues this is a more environmentally friendly method of disposing of bodies and is already used by crematoria in the United States.

But Severn Trent and the organisation which oversees water companies say the public would not feel happy with human remains being flushed into the water system. 'Water cremation', as it is known, works by placing the body into a PS300,000 torpedo-like metal chamber called a Resomator.

The machine calculates the exact amount of water and potassium hydroxide needed to "dissolve" the body. After three hours, the corpse is turned into softened bone and tea-coloured liquid. The bone is ground to powder and given to the family in an urn, while the liquid is flushed away.

While the plans have received planning permission from Sandwell Council, it still needs a licence from Severn Trent before it can dispose of waste down the drains. The council is working with the company behind it, Resomation, and hopes to have the issues resolved by next spring.

Already water cremations using the Resomator are operating in three American states, and the company says the water which is flushed into sewers does not contain any DNA from the dead person.

It is not believed there are any legal or technical reasons why Severn Trent has refused the permit, and the reason given is that the public might not accept it. Severn Trent said: "In the absence of guidance from government on this matter, and without an industry standard or a thorough appraisal of public opinion, Severn Trent has refused to accept a discharge from this process to our sewers."

The organisation which represents water firms, Water UK, said it was the public perception which was the problem. A spokesman said: "We are not convinced and believe the technology needs to be explored in much greater depth.

"This is an absolute first in the UK and we have serious concerns about the public acceptability of this. It is the liquefied remains of the dead going into the water system and we don't think the public will like that."

The plans are on hold while the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs issue guidance on the matter.

A spokeswoman for Sandwell Council said it was determined to press ahead with the scheme, despite the opposition.

"The funeral industry is evolving and modernising and we want to offer people more choice," a spokeswoman said. "Water cremation is the next phase in this evolution and would give people an option that is more environmentally-friendly than traditional cremation.

"We are working closely with Resomation UK, Water UK and other regulatory bodies to explore all options for the introduction of this new process. Once approved, Rowley Regis Crematorium in Sandwell will be the first in the UK to offer a water cremation."


A Resomator

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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Dec 21, 2017
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