Leeds cremators to close for £2.9m clean-up

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Ageing cremators at Cottingley Crematorium will have to be replaced or shut down if the city is to meet tough mercury emissions targets.

A report to Leeds City Council’s executive board, who will meet next week recommends that the crematorium’s two facilities are replaced after failing recent emissions tests.

Strict rules to cap the amount of mercury released into the atmosphere by 50 per cent were introduced by the government in 2005.

The dangerous element is released when bodies with metal fillings are burned. Local authorities must limit pollution with special filtration equipment.

The report says: “In 2011 and 2012 the cremators at Cottingley failed the emission tests and required a re-test. The re-test in 2011 was successful, but in 2012 one cremator has been re-tested and failed again. The environmental health officer has been notified and has agreed that the council may continue with operations at Cottingley provided that it is actively working to replace the cremators in the near future.

“This permit may be revoked if no action is taken and may lead to one cremator at Cottingley being decommissioned.”

Members of the executive board will be asked to approve spending up to £90,000 on design fees for the new facilities, which will include two new cremators and a mercury abatement filtration plant.

In 2010, £2.9m was factored into the councils spending plans to pay for mercury abatement and that money will be used to fund any eventual work. Originally the authority planned to introduce the new technology needed to meet the targets at Lawnswood Crematorium.

But the work at Cottingley was urgent so there has been a change of plan.

The report adds: “The manufacturer of the current cremators at Cottingley, who also hold the maintenance contract, has been contracted to investigate the problem with the emissions.

“They cannot offer a solution without significant financial commitment and are not prepared to offer any guarantees of improved performance using the existing cremators.”

If approved, work at Cottingley is expected to be completed by December 2014.

The report adds: “The preferred contractor will be asked to keep the crematorium operational on one cremator throughout the contract period.”

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