What is the simplest, cheapest, and most environmentally friendly option for dealing with a cadaver? Easy: turn it into a coffee-colored liquid which “can safely be poured down the drain.” Ohio has ordered a funeral parlor to cease liquefying corpses, however, though there is no law against it, Associated Press reports:
An Ohio funeral home that is the first in the nation to use a cremation alternative that dissolves bodies with lye and heat has effectively been blocked from using the procedure by state regulators.
Edwards Funeral Service in Columbus is the only U.S. funeral business offering the procedure called alkaline hydrolysis to the public, according to Jessica Koth, a spokeswoman for the National Funeral Directors Association. The process is touted by proponents as being better for the environment than cremation. While funeral homes in other states are moving toward the method, Edwards’ owner, Jeff Edwards, told the Columbus Dispatch that he has used the method on 19 bodies since January.
But a memo issued last week by the Ohio Department of Health has left Edwards unable to continue using the procedure. The health department’s memo directed local officials not to issue permits required for disposing of bodies or accept death certificates when bodies are to be disposed of through alkaline hydrolysis. Edwards told the newspaper he is considering legal action. “There’s no law that says you can’t do this,” he said.
Alkaline hydrolysis was developed in the U.S. in the early 1990s as a means to get rid of animal carcasses and has been used to dispose of human cadavers at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and at the University of Florida in Gainesville.
Also known as resomation, alkaline hydrolysis uses a solution of water and lye, 300-plus degree heat and 60 pounds of pressure per square inch to destroy bodies in big stainless-steel cylinders. Left behind is a coffee-colored liquid that has the consistency of motor oil and a strong ammonia smell. Proponents say in most cases it can be safely poured down the drain and that, unlike cremation, the process does not involve fossil fuels or emissions.
Read More: Associated Press