Reconsider Crematorium Project in Air Itam

The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) urges the Penang State Government and relevant authorities to reconsider the development of a crematorium in Mukim 16, Bandar Air Itam. In a media meet today, a resident of Jalan Balik Pulau, Ms. Ching Chooi Ngoh, 46 years old, voiced her concerns that the crematorium project is not in harmony with the environment here.
CAP is of the opinion that siting a crematorium on a hill slope leading to the Air Itam Dam is not suitable. We understand that 55 houses had to make way for development of a cemetery, crematorium and columbarium in this area. Villages and settlements have been slowly disappearing from Penang and now another old housing area has been wiped out.

Every thermal treatment plant including crematoria emits a cocktail of chemicals in its operational life. We are not sure what technology or pollution control measure is going to be used for this particular crematorium. Although fumes may pass through filter systems, modern crematoria would still emit significant levels of gases and ultrafine particles.

Some chemicals like dioxin and dioxin-like compounds which are cancer-causing agents could be released from crematoria depending on what is cremated besides the body. Because of dioxins toxicity and persistence, even minute traces are known to be the most dangerous. So for pollutants such as dioxins, any amount of emissions is unacceptable.

If the crematorium does not function effectively and emissions are not controlled efficiently, it would be a source of air pollution in this area. Dispersal of emissions from the crematorium may also accumulate in and on vegetables and fruits grown here, besides water bodies.

Many joggers, nature lovers, tourists use the main road leading to the Air Itam Dam. A number of people that were interviewed were not aware of the crematorium project here and expressed their surprise that approval was given to build it near a nature haven and tourist spot.

CAP hopes that the State government and the City Council of Penang Island will review the approval given and scrap the crematorium development project here.

Press Release, 15 May 2015