Woman Claims She Was Exposed To Smoke From CrematoryA woman is claiming she suffers from smoke inhalation – smoke from a funeral home burning bodies next to her former work. Now, the State Health Department is getting involved. Michelle Kay used to work next to the Holt Family Funeral Home in Fremont County along Highway 50. NEWSCHANNEL 13 uncovered reports from the State Health Department which found several alleged violations against the crematory, including mistakes made on the same day Michelle claims she was nearly suffocated by smoke at work.
“The smoke started getting really bad and I started choking on it,” said Michelle. “Finally I got into the building and I was surrounded by smoke…just the fact that the smoke was so thick and black is what concerns me,” she added.
The date was February 27th, 2009. Michelle says while at work she was overcome by smoke from the Holt Family Funeral Home Crematory next door. That night she checked herself into the hospital because she couldn’t stop coughing. Kay was treated for minor smoke inhalation and released shortly after. Now she says she is suffering emotionally.
“If there is no concern that I breathed in a dead body, than I would like that set in stone,” said Kay. “But after the research I’ve done I am a little concerned about it.”
Michelle says she looked for medical help from both her workplace as well as the crematory. But after hitting dead ends she contacted the State Health Department. It was then that an inspection was completed at the Holt Family Funeral Home Crematory. The inspection found 16 alleged violations against the crematory. NEWSCHANNEL 13 acquired the report where the alleged violations are described in detail:
. PROVISIONS OF THE LAW ALLEGED TO HAVE BEEN VIOLATED
1. Holt failed to preheat the secondary combustion zone before charging and operating the unit on February 14, 2008, violating Permit 12EP599 Condition 3.
2. Holt failed to operate both the primary and secondary burners at the design rate during the cremation period on February 14, 2008, violating Permit 12EP599 Condition 4.
3. Holt failed to operate and maintain the L-1701 retort in accordance with the procedures prescribed by the manufacture, automatic controls were overridden during operation, and the persons operating the unit were not well trained, violating Permit 12EP599 Condition 6.
4. Holt failed to place the material to be destroyed in the hearth in a manner that provides maximum exposure to the flame of the primary burner on February 14, 2008, violating Permit 12EP599 Condition 7.
5. Holt failed to submit a revised Air Pollutant Emission Notice (“APEN”) when there was a change in ownership for Permit 12EP599, violating AQCC Regulation Number 3, Part A §II.C.1.b.
6. Holt failed to obtain a valid construction permit from the Division prior to constructing the L-1701 retort, violating AQCC Regulation Number 3, Part B §II.A.1.
7. Holt failed to submit a revised APEN when there was a change in ownership for Permit 87EP124, violating AQCC Regulation Number 3, Part A §II.C.1.b.
8. Holt failed to obtain a valid construction permit from the Division prior to constructing the Power Pak Unit, violating AQCC Regulation Number 3, Part B §II.A.1.
9. At the time of inspection, Holt failed to directly mark the permit number on the IE-43, violating Permit 85FR109I Condition 2. Ms. Pilson received a picture on March 19, 2009 showing that the permit number had been marked on the IE-43.
10. Holt violated Permit 85FR109I Condition 3, as follows:
a. Holt exceeded that annual cremation rate limit of 260 in 2007 with 293 cremations and in 2008 with 282 cremations.
b. Holt failed to keep records of the weight of each body cremated as required to demonstrate the charging rate in accordance with the IE-43’s manufacturer’s specification.
c. Holt reported that the operators do not always operate the cremation cycle in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications when cremating large bodies. Holt reported that the operator did not follow the manufacturer’s specifications for cremating a large body on February 27, 2009.
11. Holt violated Permit 85FR109I Condition 4, as follows:
a. Holt does not keep records of daily charging rates.
b. Holt failed to operate in a manner consistent with good air pollution control practices due to inadequate records, inadequate maintenance, and not following the manufacturer’s operational recommendations.
12. Holt failed to maintain and operate in accordance with the manufacturer’s operating instructions, violating Permit 85FR109I Condition 8, due to the following:
a. Holt has failed to follow the manufacturer’s manual and perform the following semi-annual maintenance activities:
i. Spark plugs should be cleaned,
ii. Flame detectors should be cleaned,
iii. The fan motor should be lubricated, and
iv. The Pollution Monitoring system should be cleaned and adjusted.
b. Holt has failed to follow the manufacturer’s manual and perform the following annual maintenance activities:
i. Fan should be cleaned,
ii. Burner gas should be adjusted, and
iii. The refectory should be inspected.
c. Holt has failed to follow the manufacturer’s special instructions for cremating bodies over 300 lbs, which include:
i. Setting the afterburner timer to 3 hours (normally it is set for 2 hours),
ii. Turning the ignition timer off for one full hour of delay immediately after the body has ignited,
iii. Turning the cremation timer on after the body has been reduced to a normal size (less than 300 lbs), and
iv. Checking for visible emissions and adjusting the ignition timer and afterburner timer accordingly.
13. Holt failed to preheat the secondary combustion zone (“afterburner”) 30 minutes prior to the ignition burner being ignited as required by the manufacturer. The afterburner turns off 30 minutes prior to the cremation burner; therefore it is not maintaining operating temperature during the last 30 minutes of the cremation. The operation of the afterburner violates Permit 85FR109I Condition 9.
14. Holt failed to submit an APEN and obtain a permit prior to installing and operating West Crematory in Fremont County, violating AQCC Regulation Number 3, Part A §II.A. and Part B §II.A.1.
15. Holt failed to submit an APEN prior to constructing the Pet Retort in El Paso County, violating AQCC Regulation Number 3, Part A §II.A.
16. Holt failed to obtain a permit prior to constructing the Pet Retort in El Paso County, violating AQCC Regulation Number 3 Part B §II.A.1.
Some of the allegations are miniscule, however one of them caught Michelle’s attention. 10c. Alleges that mistakes were made by crematory employees on the same day that Michelle says she was overcome by smoke. (February 27th).
“The mortuary should be held responsible for it,” she said.
NEWSCHANNEL 13 contacted the General Manager of the funeral home to get their side of the story. Rick Glover said that they are in no way responsible for Michelle’s emotional medical problems because there is no proof the crematory caused them.
Glover did admit the funeral home was guilty of some of the violations in the report, and he has already begun working with the State Health Department and his staff to make sure they are fixed immediately.
The Holt Family Funeral Home Crematory has been in Fremont County for 24 years and this is the first time they have ever been cited for any violations.
On Thursday there will be a hearing held with the State Health Department and the funeral home to go over the alleged violations. If they are found guilty the funeral home could face up to $15,000 in fines per violation, per day.
Glover says he plans to fully cooperate with the State Health Department.
Source: KRDO Channel 13