Firm wants crematorium for human remains Facility would incinerate up to three bodies a day

August 01, 1996|By Craig Timberg | Craig Timberg,SUN STAFF

To cash in on the growing popularity of cremation, a new company wants to build Howard County's first crematorium for human remains, an Elkridge facility that would incinerate up to three bodies a day.

Capitol Crematorium, a partnership between two Columbia men, will face its first test at a Planning Board hearing this morning. The Department of Planning & Zoning has recommended allowing the crematorium in a light manufacturing zone on South Hanover Road -- about 500 feet from the residential area of Loudon Avenue.

Project manager Fred Glassberg said that as many as three vehicles would arrive each day -- usually between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. -- and drive into the crematorium, planned as a 1,500-square-foot room in an industrial building behind Normandy Ford's body shop.

The operators would close the crematorium's bay door before unloading the body. The intense heat of the incinerator -- about 1,800 degrees -- would destroy the body and any germs, leaving behind just ashes, heated air and a safe level of trace emissions, Glassberg said.

"There is no smell whatsoever," he said. "This has controls that keep the rate of burning where everything gets combusted."

Maryland has 90 licensed crematoriums -- 60 for pets, 30 for human remains.

The only crematorium in Howard County is at a pet cemetery, Rosa Bonheur Memorial Park on Route 1 in Elkridge.

Most facilities for human remains operate at funeral homes or cemeteries. But Capitol Crematorium would operate independently, allowing it to negotiate deals with any funeral home or cemetery in the region.

Crematoriums typically charge between $100 and $150, far less than the hundreds or thousands of dollars needed for burial plots, said Steve Lohrmann of Cremation and Funeral Alternatives in Towson.

In 1995, more than 40 percent of Americans said they would likely choose cremation for themselves or their loved ones, according to a survey by the National Funeral Directors Association.

In Maryland, only 16 percent of the dead were cremated in 1994, but the business is growing, said Michael J. Ruck, owner of a chain of funeral homes in the Baltimore area and a spokesman for the National Funeral Directors Association.

If the Planning Board recommends allowing Capitol Crematorium to proceed, the company still would need approval from the county Board of Appeals at a meeting scheduled Sept. 17.

In addition, the crematorium would need two state air-quality permits, one to build, the other to operate the facility.

Industrial Equipment & Engineering Co. of Orlando, Fla., the country's largest maker of crematory incinerators, built the machine Capitol Crematorium would use. It has two chambers: one for burning the body, the other for completing combustion of the gases created by the process.

Those gases would go out through a stack 2 feet wide and nearly 7 feet tall on top of the building.

The emissions would include three parts per million of carbon monoxide and 0.021 grains per cubic foot of particulate matter, said Dale Walters, an engineer for the manufacturer.

"If you live on a street," Walters said, "you're getting much more matter coming out of a car than you ever would coming out of this thing."

Pub Date: 8/01/96

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