Tonawanda Amigone Funeral Home Agrees To Cease Crematory Operation For Six Months

July 26, 2012 Updated Jul 26, 2012 at 7:14 AM EDT

By WKBW News

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July 26, 2012 Updated Jul 26, 2012 at 7:14 AM EDT

BUFFALO, NY (Press Release from the State Attorney General's Office) - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced he has reached an agreement with Sheridan Park, Inc., which operates the Amigone Funeral Home crematory in Tonawanda, to cease its operations for six months while pursuing solutions to eliminate odor, particles, smoke and other emissions that have been the source of persistent community complaints. The agreement preserves the right of Attorney General Schneiderman to take legal action if the emissions of concern to the community have not been solved.

The Attorney General’s agreement first commits Sheridan Park to pursue the relocation of their crematory operations to a more suitable site, including securing any necessary state or local approvals. If such approvals are not granted, the corporation then must retain an expert to evaluate crematory operations and make recommendations to the State on engineering solutions that will resolve community concerns.

"For years, emissions from the Amigone Funeral Home's crematory have been the source of complaints in the Tonawanda community. This agreement is a victory for the families who deserve a neighborhood that is free from offensive odors, smoke and soot," said Attorney General Schneiderman. "I am pleased that the operators of the Amigone crematory have agreed to halt its crematory operations and focus on finding a solution to the emissions that disrupted the lives of dozens of nearby families. Our office will remain vigilant to protect all New Yorkers’ right to clean, fresh air."

The Amigone crematory, which began operations in August 1991, is located in a densely-populated neighborhood in the Town of Tonawanda, Erie County. Since that time, Sheridan Park has implemented a number of operational and engineering changes at the facility in response to odors, soot, smoke and other emission concerns of the community. Nonetheless, residents in the surrounding neighborhood continue to complain that emissions from the crematory's operations disrupt routine activities and the enjoyment of their property, including gardening, walking, and backyard family events.

The legally binding agreement announced today by Attorney General Schneiderman is focused on eliminating emissions from the Amigone crematory's operations that have been the source of the community's persistent complains.

The agreement requires Sheridan Park to cease the operation of its Tonawanda crematory effective July 22. Further, the corporation is required to keep the crematory's operations halted while it actively pursues solutions to eliminating the emissions that have been the subject of community complaints. Specifically:

· Sheridan Park is first required to pursue relocating their crematory operations to a more suitable site, including securing any necessary state or local approvals; and

· If no such permission is granted, Sheridan Park is then required to retain a technical expert with experience in operating crematories to make recommendations on engineering solutions to end problematic emissions. The agreement requires that such recommendation be submitted to Attorney General Schneiderman and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for review.

Attorney General Schneiderman thanked the Department of Environmental Conservation for their efforts in this matter.

The agreement preserves the right of Attorney General Schneiderman to take legal action against Sheridan Park and the Amigone Funeral Home if the emissions of concern to the community have not been solved, including if the State determinates the engineering recommendations will not end these emissions.

Rebecca Newberry, Program Coordinator, Clean Air Coalition of Western New York, said, "The Clean Air Coalition applauds Eric Schneiderman and his talented team for taking decisive action that will improve air quality in the Town of Tonawanda. While many pointed fingers, the Attorney General has shown leadership by reaching this agreement with the Amigone family. The community will find great relief knowing they can enjoy their homes and property once again."

The case is being handled by Assistant Attorneys Jane Cameron and Michael Myers and staff scientist Dr. Ray Vaughan, under the supervision of Chief Scientist Alan Belensz, Deputy Bureau Chief Lisa M. Burianek, Bureau Chief Lemuel M. Srolovic, and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice Janet Sabel. DEC Region 9 Attorney Maureen Brady and Environmental Engineer Alan Zylinski assisted in the case.

Eyewitness News reached out to Amigone for a statement. This is what they told us, "Sheridan Park, which is run by Amigone, is looking over all our options and will return those options to the attorney's office. Relocation would depend on a decision from the NYS Cemetery Board and the potential financial impact to the business."