A crematorium is planning to sue environmental officials


A CREMATORIUM is to sue environment watchdogs who slammed it over the temperature it burns bodies at.

West Lothian Crematorium in Livingston was given a pollution warning by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa), which included its site in a list of operators which didn’t meet regulations.

The crematorium was branded “very poor” by Sepa for failing to keep a combustion chamber at 800 degree centigrade.

SEPA have given the crematorium a pollution warning after not meeting all of their regulations


The temperature is needed to minimise the emissions of human remains.

But the crematorium’s owners say Sepa have misinterpreted the rules set by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Richard Evans, managing director of the site’s owners Westerleigh Group, said the temperatures had dropped below the threshold but this was only momentary, not an average.

He said: “We are appalled by Sepa’s decision to issue a warning to West Lothian Crematorium.

“It is fitted with the best possible equipment and the standards we work to are amoung the highest in the world.

“Our cremators are fitted with a sophisticated filter which ensures that the process is effectively clean to air.

“We are fully compliant with the regulations and operate to agreed national standards.

“We stand ready to take legal action against any organisation allegeing the contrary.”

Mr Evans  said Sepa’s readings were not an average figure of the temperature.

He said: “Sepa claim that six reportable minor breaches took place between January and June 2011 when the temperature in the cremator dropped momentarily below the 800C minimum to allow the cremator door to be opened for the first cremation of the week to take place.

“This is usual practice for all crematoria in the UK and leads to a momentary drop in temperature, typically two to five degrees, for a matter of seconds.

“It has no impact on pollution and we have never exceeded the emission limits set by Sepa.”

Sepa say the temperature controls are to prevent the emission of “particulate matter” from dead bodies.

They are also to prevent emissions of mercury, produced by dental fillings being cremated, and other  pollutants like hydrogen chloride and carbon monoxide.

Sepa also said the crematorium did not provide notification or follow-up reports on breaches in temperature control  in early 2011.

Aidan Gilroy, environmental protection officer at Sepa, said: “In the first half of 2011, West Lothian Crematorium experienced a number of drops in temperature below 800C in the secondary combustion chamber.

“This, along with failings to notify Sepa of the incidents, resulted in the crematotium being marked as ‘very poor’ on Sepa’s compliance assessment scheme.”

Sepa said they were not aware of, and would not comment on, any plans for legal action by the Westleigh Group.