UNSUITABLE storage in Harrogate's crematorium – branded "unacceptable" after staff were forced to keep coffins in public areas because of a critical lack of space – is likely to be overhauled in the near future.
A report recommending an extension to Stonefall Crematorium, which deals with nearly 1,500 services every year, is being presented to Harrogate Borough Council's cabinet member for public protection and rural affairs next week.
It says that due to the installation of equipment to filter out mercury in the original coffin storage rooms four years ago, space is now running out.
Philip Andrew, bereavement services manager who compiled the report, said: "The lack of suitable storage space has been a real problem since the abatement equipment was put in the crematory area.
"Very often it is necessary to hold coffins in the crematory after a service until they can be charged into a cremator.
"Due to the storage difficulties within the same area, this is not only unacceptable but can be extremely embarrassing when trying to deliver a sensitive service in such an environment – especially if the crematory area is visited."
The proposed extension will cost just over £12,000.
Councillor Les Ellington, who will decide on the report on Monday, said: "It is obviously such a sensitive issue and we really need this storage space.
"At the moment the storage facilities are now encroaching on the working areas which is not good enough.
"Because of all the modern fittings needing to be put into the building it all requires a lot of space but obviously you can only do so much before you need to expand."
Between 1991 and 1998, all UK cremators were either upgraded or replaced to ensure they met new environmental standards.
But in 2006, the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, estimated that without intervention, emissions of mercury from crematoria will rise by two-thirds between 2000 and 2020.
Due to a UK obligation to reduce the disposal into the environment of mercury from human remains, Defra stated that 50 per cent of all cremations at existing crematoria must be subject to mercury abatement by 31 December 2012.