People are turning to cremation for a variety of reasons at the end of life. If you have planned a scattering at sea, you may have concerns about whether or not it is legal. Here are some things to consider when choosing to scatter the ashes of a loved one.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a family choosing a burial at sea of non-cremated remains must adhere to specific requirements. Normally, a traditional burial at sea must take place a minimum of three nautical miles from land and within water at least 600 feet deep. Some areas along the coast will have their own requirements, so it is best to verify the area for the sea burial does not have other requirements.
There is no water depth requirement when having an ashes scattering at sea, at least not for environmental purposes. They do recommend that the ashes scattering takes place outside of the three nautical mile limit, however. The EPA also requires that someone report all burials at sea, including ash scatterings, within 30 days. Atlantis Memorials, and similar services, understand the laws governing ash scatterings at sea and ensures they will follow these requirements.
The state of California also requires anyone who does ash scattering at sea services to hold a license through the California Department of Consumer Affairs. The license, called ‘Cremated Remains Disposer’ or CRD, may not be enough. The United States Coast Guard may also issue licenses for businesses performing this service. The memorial service firm will know what licenses are required.
When discussing a scattering at sea service, it is best to get copies of the CRD license and annual inspection report to verify they are up-to-date. You can also check the Department of Consumer Affairs License lookup form at the CA.gov website.
You will also need to obtain a burial permit when you want to have an ash scattering at sea. The County Vital Statistics/Health Department, in the county where the scattering will take place, issues this permit. Obviously, since you are scattering the ashes at sea, you would get the permit from the county where the memorial service is located. The memorial service may require you to sign an authorization form for their records, but you can get that information from them.
Once you have verified all licenses and permits are in order, you can discuss other details about having your loved one’s scattering at sea service. Things you may want to consider are:
- Will family members be present during the scattering?
- Will extended family, friends and co-workers also be present?
- Will you have specific music played during the service?
- Who will conduct the service?
- Will you allow family and friends to speak during the service?
The right memorial service company will be able to offer suggestions to make the scattering at sea service one that will honor your loved one and be remembered by all who attend.