Water Company Refuses Government Plans To Flush Human Bodies Down Drains

James Felton 19 Dec 2017, 13:04

A water company has rejected local government plans to flush liquefied bodies down the drain.

Deciding what to do with your body after you die is a tough one. If you're eco-friendly, you may want to dispose of your body in a way that doesn't damage the environment. However, the options for this are limited.

Cremation requires 760-1,150°C (1,400-2,100°F) of heat over 75 minutes. According to The Guardian, that's around 15 kiloWatt-hours of electricity for the average cremation, around the same as a living person uses over the course of an entire month. 

Burial, on the other hand, uses a lot of chemicals as they prep your body. As your body breaks down, the formaldehyde used to preserve it can enter the water supply.

Which is why other eco-friendly alternatives to burial have sprung up. One method – resomation – involves rapidly decomposing the body using alkaline hydrolysis. Essentially it dissolves the corpse using alkaline chemicals, pressure, and heat. It takes three hours and a lot less energy than cremation. After the process, all that is left is around 1,500 liters (330 gallons) of a tea-colored liquid, the bones, and any artificial parts such as hips or fillings.

The bones can then be ground down and returned to the family, much like ashes from cremation.

 

One council in the UK liked this idea, and approved a £300,000 ($400,000) plan to install a resomation machine at one crematorium in Rowley Regis, the Sunday Times reports. However, their plans to offer this eco-friendly version of cremation have hit a wall, after water companies have refused to let the crematorium flush the liquefied remains down the drain. 

Water company Severn Trent has refused a "trade effluent" permit to Sandwell Council to go ahead with their plans, stating that the permit only covers waste disposal – not the disposal of dead bodies. The water company told the Sunday Times that they had "serious concerns" about how acceptable the public would find the idea of liquefied remains entering the water system.

Sandwell Council responded that:

“The funeral industry is evolving and modernising and we want to offer people more choice. Water cremation is the next phase in this evolution and would give people a more environmentally friendly option."

The company's machines are already in use in parts of the US and Canada. Resomation currently operates in Florida, Minnesota, Maine, Oregon, and Illinois. They say the liquid produced during the resomation process is "organic, sterile, and has no DNA in it" and that there is no reason why it can't go down normal drain systems.

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