Bodies interred in underground vaults will be required to be embalmed and hermetically sealed from now on, adding a hefty cost to already expensive funerals.
Griffith Council addressed a verbal reproach from NSW Health on burial procedure, advising that all vault burials must be embalmed while this is currently only occurring in above-ground burials.
Embalming must be accompanied by an embalming certificate, and can only be done by qualified and trained practitioners.
As a result, Council resolved to amend the current Cemetery management plan to comply with health orders and ensure corpses are embalmed and hermetically sealed. They noted that this would significantly increase costs of burials.
It's estimated that the cost of embalming is estimated to land at around $3000, with further costs for hermetically sealed coffins.
Current burials that aren't complying with the health codes will remain as is, but all burials going forward will need to abide by the new management plan. The maximum penalty for not following the regulations will be around a $690 fine.
A spokesperson for Murrumbidgee Local Health District's Public Health unit said that "the Secretary of the NSW Ministry of Health may approve other conditions under which a body may be placed in a vault," but this is unlikely without specific exemptions.
"We've been advised that if we were to request an exemption, it is unlikely to be granted," said deputy mayor Simon Croce.
Bodies that are not embalmed release cadaverine and putrescine, two foul-smelling substances that can be toxic, however the primary concern relating to unembalmed and inappropriately stored bodies is possible contamination of groundwater.
Many could be forced to pay for travel for their deceased loved ones to go to Wagga, Sydney or other urban centres to be embalmed and transported back.
The increased costs may deter people from using vaults for burials, and place pressure on other areas of Griffith cemeteries. Vault burials that have already been paid for will also be subject to the increased costs.
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