Today's letters: Liquid cremation isn't good for the environment

By George Neville, Ottawa Citizen Letter to the Editor, August 2, 2019

There’s nothing green about this ‘burial’

Re: Public health puts brakes on liquid cremation, July 26.

Liquid cremation (better and more accurately termed alkaline hydrolysis) resulting in discharge of its waste hydrolysis product via sewers to our already overburdened rivers, is neither socially nor ethically responsible in this age of recycling.  Although rivers were used in pioneer times to carry off slaughterhouse blood and waste, to the detriment of water quality and watershed sustainability, in this age we know better to respect and care for the health of streams and rivers.

Alkaline hydrolysis of a corpse, whether by slow low-temperature (below 100º Celsius) or by pressurized high-temperature (about 150º C) digestion with use of either sodium carbonate or lye, results in a similar chemical soup – a mixture of amino acid salts from digestion of body protein, a mixture of fatty acid salts and glycerin from digestion of body fat and aqueous, and flocculant suspended iron oxide/hydroxides from alkaline degradation of body blood. That such a soup of bodily digested waste (animal or human) would be discharged into rivers such as the Rideau at Smiths Falls or directly into the Ottawa River is repulsive to human sensibilities, socially unacceptable as a source of potable water, and ethically irresponsible.

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