Crematory receives early approval

Jason Linde understands people in Carlsborg aren’t happy with his plans, but he doesn’t know where else to install his cremation equipment other than in an industrial park.

Linde, owner of Linde Family Funeral Service in Sequim, recently applied with Clallam County to build a crematory in Carlsborg. The county hearings examiner approved Linde’s request May 7.

Next, Linde will have to meet conditions of approval set up by the examiner, Chris Melly, such as the need for a new building permit and an emissions permit from the Olympic Region Clean Air Agency.

“There are still a few steps to take,” Linde said. “I went through the same process in Yakima and was approved there as well.”

Melly’s decision spurred Linde’s Carlsborg neighbors, both residential and commercial, to form a coalition, Citizens for Carlsborg, to fight the crematory’s approval.

The group’s attorney Gerald Steel wrote a letter May 9 to the county opposing the issuance of a new building permit, stating if it is issued, “We are likely to take legal action.”

Steel cited an April 23 state Growth Management Board ruling stating the Carlsborg urban growth area is invalid and that building permits cannot be issued until the UGA is deemed valid by the board. Steel represented Dry Creek Coalition, a petitioner in the growth board case.

“We believe any decision regarding a building permit for commercial or industrial uses is subject to the rule of invalidity, which means the county cannot issue a permit until invalidity is lifted, which probably won’t be until a sewer is built to service the entire UGA,” Steel said.

County senior planner Steve Grey said applications for a conditional use and building permit were submitted before the growth board decision, indicating the decision may not have an impact on the process, adding that he needed to review the documents with the county prosecuting attorney’s office.

“I’ll need time to digest this before commenting on how we will move forward on processing this application,” Grey said.

Already in use

Steel said the business is already operating, providing the Gazette with an affidavit from a Port Angeles refrigeration technician stating he saw bodies stored at the facility at 108 Business Park Loop.

“Doing this work prior to having all of the proper permits is at the very least a code violation,” Steel said.

Linde said he has used the refrigeration unit and that he is not in violation.

“Washington law requires a body to be refrigerated before cremation and we hold bodies there (in Carlsborg) in refrigeration until the day of cremation. We then transport to Seattle once proper permits have been obtained,” Linde said. “The refrigeration unit is under the jurisdiction of the state Department of Funeral Licensing and has been inspected and approved.”

Grey said if Linde is using the facility before meeting the conditions of approval set by Melly, he may be in violation of building code.

“The permit condition was that he would need to get a final building permit and change of use permit, which he has not received,” Grey said.

Linde disagreed. He said funeral homes are an approved business under county zoning and his application deals with the cremation chamber. He said he has operated the refrigeration unit for “several months.”

Emissions, policy

Neighbors are also upset about county notification and possible emissions.

The county planning staff required a sign be put in front of the property describing the proposed use and that all neighbors within 600 feet be notified in writing, which is twice the distance required by state law.

That wasn’t enough for Anita Gayheart and Susanne Severeid, who wanted a longer public process, which they will get in the emissions permit review.

Linde also needs an Olympic Region Clean Air Agency permit for emissions.

Emission concerns stem from mercury released into the air by cremation from amalgam fillings. Amalgam fillings are 50 percent mercury, 35 percent silver and 15 percent tin, according to a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency 2002 report Use and Release of Mercury in the United States. “Mercury emissions from a body during cremation range from 3.84 x 10-8 to 4.16 x 10-6 kilograms or 8.45x10-8 to 3.21 x10-6 pounds,” the report reads.

“(The crematory) would be considered a minor source, which doesn’t mean we won’t track the emissions, we just won’t regulate as heavily,” said ORCAA communications officer Dan Nelson. “Our specialists run computer models and test emissions to the standards of the state and the U.S. EPA.”

ORCCA specialists gather data from all commercial emitters in the county, including crematories or even laundromats. Any time an emitter is within a certain distance of residential areas, ORCAA holds public hearings in the community to gauge concerns. The crematory is no exception and ORCAA will hold meetings once it receives an application from Linde for a permit.

Nelson said crematories used to be a bigger problem, but with modern technology ORCAA hasn’t had issues with crematories in the area, which run on older equipment than Linde is proposing to install.

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