A £1.6m scheme to cut mercury emissions at Rawdon Crematorium is going ahead.
Councillors this week authorised the spending of more than £1.6m on a scheme which will see new filtration equipment installed at the crematorium. Leeds City Council is aiming to half mercury emissions by next year and slash them completely by 2020, to meet government and European Union environmental targets.
Failure to meet the targets could have resulted in the government forcing the closure of the crematorium.
The council says mercury emissions have no significant effect on the local environment but there was concern about the cumulative effect of emissions nationally.
The chemical can find its way to the sea and be ingested by fish, which if eaten, could have a harmful effect on humans.
Mercury historically has a range of uses, particularly in dental fillings. When bodies are cremated, low levels of mercury can be released into the atmosphere.
Leeds is planning to spend £2.9m on reducing emissions from three crematoria with £1.6m of that being used to upgrade cremators at Rawdon. Once the work is complete it is expected the crematorium will carry out 2,800 cremations a year.
Senior Tory Councillor Andrew Carter said: “This is a wholly sensible solution to a particularly awkward question.
“These works, while costly, will ensure that the council will now be able to avoid the potentially catastrophic scenario of our cremators being shut down to comply with emission targets.”
Leeds City Council is the fifth largest burial authority in the country, dealing with about 5,600 cremations and the creation of 542 new graves every year.