DEC closes Tonawanda crematory until further notice

Tonawanda

TOWN OF TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB)–The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation ruled the Sheridan Park Crematory at Amigone Funeral Home on Sheridan Drive is closed until further notice after receiving a notice of violation on Monday.

DEC officials say cremations cannot resume until Sheridan Park submits a report for review and approval, detailing results of the investigation, repairs made, and corrective actions taken to prevent this from happening in the future. They must submit this report no later than Friday.

The decision comes following last Wednesday’s report of black smoke coming from the crematory at the Amigone Funeral Home.

In the notice of violation, the DEC says, “Sheridan Park reported to DEC that cremations have ceased pending the results of an investigation being conducted by Sheridan Park and Matthews Cremations (the manufacturer of the crematory) into the cause of the excessive smoke, and the damage incurred.”

Residents reported this to the DEC, saying the black smoke appeared to land on houses, cars, and property, the DEC says.

According to the DEC, neighbors also reported the odor associated with the smoke made it unbearable to be outside. They also provided pictures and videos of the black smoke to the DEC.

Officials tell News 4 that Sheridan Park reported to DEC that the pollution controls were bypassed when problems with that cremation occurred. 

The DEC says Sheridan Park must correct the following:

  • Sheridan Park must install a continuous temperature monitor in the exhaust stack of the crematory. The temperature in the stack must be measured and recorded continuously (1-minute intervals), hourly, every day, even when no cremations are occurring. The temperature data must be recorded electronically, and in a manner that cannot be altered, such as on a circular chart or paper strip recorder, by October 1, 2020.
  • Emissions from the crematory stack must be modeled using EPA’s AERMOD program to evaluate downwash onto neighboring properties. The model shall incorporate the HVAC and noise barriers on the roof of the Amigone’s Tonawanda Chapel, along with trees, and any other items that may influence the dispersion of emissions onto neighboring properties. The AERMOD protocol must be submitted by October 15, 2020.

Assemblyman Sean Ryan weighed in on the decision saying, “I am very pleased to see the DEC has acted quickly and decisively after the disturbing plume of black smoke that was released from the Sheridan Park Crematorium at Amigone’s Sheridan Drive Facility. The decision reached to pause cremations is the right decision to ensure the safety of the neighbors of the facility is put first. I have full faith that the DEC, with the cooperation of Sheridan Park, will identify the issues that caused this
event to occur and take the steps necessary to keep our community safe.”

Councilwoman Shannon Patch, who took photos of the incident on September 9, also released a statement on the DEC’s ruling:

This is an issue of fairness. It is not fair to the great businesses in Tonawanda that do follow the
rules, it’s not fair to our town, and most of all, it is not fair to these residents who can’t use their
backyards or have family over because they don’t know when they might be dealing with smoke
and odors from Amigone. The DEC agrees with us – a plume of mysterious black smoke is not
okay in our community, and I appreciate their quick action.

Troy Licastro is a digital content producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2018. See more of his work here.

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