As a crematory, it becomes YOUR personal obligation as well as the business’s obligation to properly dispose of post-cremation metal materials that come under the EPA’s listed waste category, i.e. gold, silver, platinum, palladium and iridium. Such wastes are found in post cremation dental scrap and other non-combustible metals.
Under CFR Title 40 of the U.S. Civil Code, there is a section that discusses and covers the EPA laws that apply to heavy metals and a discussion concerning their safe disposal. Heavy metals are metals that have the capacity to leach into the ground, pollute the ground water, damage the environment, and harm people's health. Certain precious metals are also considered hazardous waste once they are removed from their initial use; such as in dental crowns, bridges, etc. and must be recycled or disposed of in a legal and environmentally compliant manner. This has a direct impact on owners and operators of crematories that handle and remove cremated remains.
Here is how the EPA views it. Once a metal has reached its end of use as a product and is no longer needed for its original function, that metal is now considered to be a waste by-product. It is then that you, as the crematory owner, accept the responsibility for the safe and legal disposal of such metal. One cannot throw this metal into a landfill or place the metal in a vault. In fact, you, as the owner, remain liable for the proper disposal of that metal. Specifically, this means that you and the crematory are liable for the correct handling and processing of such remains. Furthermore, that liability can pass to your heirs should you die or even if the crematory ceases to exist. One cannot hide behind the corporate veil; it is a personal liability that can and will be transferred to one's heirs.
So what are the materials that are causing such headaches and could have the potential for putting you and your crematory at risk? Believe it or not, it is the precious metals also known as "heavy metals". Within a dental crown, dental bridge, dental fillings, pacemakers, etc., are mixtures commonly referred to as alloys of gold, silver, platinum, palladium and iridium. These "heavy metals" are regulated by the EPA. These regulations extend not only to you and your crematory but also to the company and the person that you give these materials to. It is your responsibility to insure that these people and/or companies are environmentally compliant, EPA licensed and are not just scrap metal dealers who in reality are middle men and call themselves a refiner.
In other words, the actions of the person and/or companies that you give the materials to becomes your legal responsibility. Included in these EPA regulations are the chemicals and processes that refiners use to separate and purify the metals for re-use. These are cited in the regulations because of their deleterious impact to the environment. If your crematory is the source of the post-cremation "heavy metals", you remain liable as does the refiner that processes such wastes. That is why it is important for you to know who is taking your materials. Is this a refiner that is environmentally compliant or is he a just a scrap metal dealer who is a middle man who calls himself or his company a refiner?
Be careful, be prudent and be aware as to where your materials are going.
Much of the metal waste discussed above makes your crematory liable for “cradle to grave” liability. That is, the generator of this waste (in this case, the crematory) has the responsibility to handle such waste in an environmentally compliant manner until the point at which the EPA deems it to no longer be a hazardous waste. At any time, you could be called upon to produce paperwork proving that the metals have been disposed of or processed according to EPA standards.
Don't worry, there is a simple way to handle this - keep reading
Subpart F, Section 266.70 provides for the exemption of the above regulations if certain procedures are followed. The first requirement is that all materials that contain precious metals (i.e. heavy metals) must be sent to an EPA-licensed facility for recycling and refining. Documentation of an EPA manifest must be kept on file by the facility for future proof that all EPA laws concerning refining of such materials were followed properly. Merely presenting a letter stating that a facility is recycling in an environmentally compliant manner is NOT sufficient. The EPA required manifest proves and substantiates the fact that the facility refining the metals is EPA-licensed and as such will end the crematory’s cradle to grave liability.
So the solution is easy. All you need to do is to select an environmentally compliant EPA refiner of precious metals and to allow that refiner to process all of your cremation metal by-products. As a result this true refiner will be able to provide the proper cradle-to-grave documentation that protects you. In fact, it is your only option if you wish to remain EPA compliant and safe.
Ultimately you want to insure that you are environmentally responsible and NOT environmentally liable!