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Before establishing a crematorium in the country, there have been assurances that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) will be conducted.
Construction of a new public cemetery for Saint John’s and surrounding areas is ongoing, and discussions are underway with two female entrepreneurs of Antiguan descent living in Canada who are interested in building the country’s first crematorium.
The women, Shelley Challenger, and Minnelle Williams, believe there is a demand for such a service and are willing to invest. They have met with cabinet members to present their ideas for the crematorium operation.
According to Ambassador Lionel ‘Max’ Hurst, Chief of Staff in the Office of the Prime Minister, the environmental impact assessment will also examine the energy used to cremate bodies. “They were asked what energy source they would use for the furnace, and they indicated that in Canada, where they are based, they now utilize gasoline, the same that we use in our cars.
They subsequently learned that purchasing a crematorium that uses LNG would be an option, as an LNG plant is being erected in Antigua and Barbuda and it is a less harmful energy source than gasoline. Based on this information, they are now considering the option of LNG rather than going with gasoline,” he told reporters at the Cabinet Press Conference Monday. Two funeral homes had plans to work together and build a crematorium, but that plan fell apart a few years ago.
Hurst stated that two individuals have committed to spending more than $250,000 on constructing a crematorium and shipping equipment to the island. This will reduce the amount of financial assistance the government will need to provide.
The two women who committed believe that the crematorium should be located as close as possible to the cemetery in case families wish to bury remains there.
The government may provide a long-term lease for land within the cemetery or nearby. Legislative amendments will continue to be pursued to facilitate the establishment of crematoriums on the island.
Previously, funeral homes had shown more interest in establishing their own crematoriums, but Hurst expressed that their enthusiasm had waned due to several factors.
The return on investment for a crematorium is low, as it may only be used a few times a year, and funeral homes are hesitant to take that risk. Hurst believes that their reluctance may also be due to the amount of debt they currently have.
The entrepreneurs who committed to building the crematorium have stated that they will consider the purchase of LNG-powered furnaces after an Environmental Impact Assessment is conducted. Hurst also added that these entrepreneurs had originally planned to use gasoline as a source of energy for the furnace, but they were informed that LNG was a less polluting option.
The Attorney General and the Minister of Health will collaborate to ensure that the necessary laws are passed in Parliament to allow the crematorium to operate. The investors have expressed their desire to build the facility close to the new cemetery.