After a recent ruling by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo, the construction of a new mega-crematorium in East Oakland, which could burn as many as 3,000 bodies a year, may begin as early as next year.
The Neptune Society of Northern California had obtained a permit to build the crematorium near the Oakland International Airport last year, but within days of receiving it, City Councilmember Larry Reid moved to stop the construction of the project.
The City Council then unanimously passed an ordinance, which says a special permit must be obtained for construction of such a businesses as a crematorium. However, Judge Grillo ruled that the ordinance could not be used against Neptune because the company’s permit predates the law.
“I think every community, including Oakland, has to be aware there are necessary services that have to be performed,” said Michael Miller, president of Neptune Society.
The question is not at this point whether Neptune Society followed the city’s guidelines for building the crematorium but whether the city had allowed sufficient opportunity for community questions and concerns – positive or negative.
Reid and community members want to know more about possible toxins the crematorium may emit, but Miller says, there “aren’t any dangers of having a crematorium in the community.”
However, community members remain unconvinced by testimony from scientific experts who are not independent but who were hired by the Neptune Society.
The Bay Area Quality Management District, an agency that looks at emissions, has given the company a green light and says the business will pose no threat to residents or its employees, according to Miller.
The mega crematorium will be one of the largest on the West Coast.
Miller says Oakland was identified as a potential construction zone for its industrial areas zoned for this type of use.
Despite the controversy, Miller says the economic benefits to the city include the jobs the crematorium will create for Oakland residents.