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Politics // The Right Price
Larry Price

Clearing The Air About Cremation

State legislators offered some strong and convincing evidence that they care for all people and things in spreading their Aloha. The bill is HB2656, HD2, SD2, Relating to Air Pollution Control.

The purpose and intent of the measure is to subject crematoriums of human remains operating within the state to all permit requirements. Right now crematoriums are currently exempt from federal and state air pollution control permit requirements.

Oahu Cemetery Association testified that the cemetery’s crematoriums include three 100-year-old units that are unlikely to meet the standards and approvals needed to obtain the permits required by the bill.

Everything seemed to be going along well until the operators of the only Oahu crematorium equipped to handle bodies of 300 pounds or more said it could be forced to close under terms of the bill.

Oahu Cemetery Association told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that it performs about 200 cremations each month, and one-third are for large bodies weighing more than 300 pounds. Neighbors have complained about the ash and odor billowing from the cemetery, even though most of the cremations take place during the hours of darkness.

Well, someone is going to have to speed up construction because there aren’t too many alternatives to cremation. There are several religions that suggest cremation is the proper way to enter the next world, which explains why Oahu Cemetery Association, Hosoi Garden Mortuary Inc. and Leeward Funeral Home testified against the bill, hoping for more time to comply.

Generally speaking, there is not a lot of sympathy at the Square Building on Beretania Street for 300-pounders or the people who will be charged with carrying out the provisions in their funeral packages. It seems like it would be a small concession for the legislators to give the family and friends of 300-pounders a little leeway to get the new, state-of-the-art crematoriums built and tested. What’s the rush? If the crematoriums have been spreading the ash and odor around for more than 100 years, another year or two is not going to kill anyone.

Even more sad is the plight of people who weigh more than 300 pounds and are worried if their wishes will be honored. It might be a good time to consider some of the alternatives since it’s almost guaranteed that the bill will pass. Unfortunately, if it wasn’t an election year when the Legislature is set to sign and die on time, there would be some logic to waiting. Rather than counting on the Legislature to hear your concerns, maybe it’s a better plan to go on a crash diet and come in under the weight limit before the final bell rings.

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