Crematorium fires up in NE Portland

The view from a NE Portland kitchen window Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013 -- as the new crematorium fires up at Gable Funeral Home. (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Some Northeast Portland residents are concerned about what recently began floating over their homes.

A funeral home near NE 80 Avenue and Everett Street is now cremating human remains.

The Gable Funeral Home has been a good neighbor to many people who live in the area — that is, until it recently sold. The new out-of-state corporate owner added cremation services to its offerings.

9-11-13-crematorium street signs
When the cremations started here at NE 80th and Everett, Bruce Dawson also started seeing smoke from his kitchen window. (KOIN 6 News)

When the cremations started here at NE 80th and Everett, Bruce Dawson also started seeing smoke from his kitchen window.

“I had the bamboo blind drawn and the window closed,” Dawson said, “and I could see it through the two sets of blinds.”

Bruce Dawson has breathing problems to begin with, and having smoke from burnt human remains floating over his neighborhood is too much.

Dawson said the crematorium burns two to three times a day — six days a week. It’s noisy, it smells, and the smoke pours out of a smokestack right in the middle of his residential neighborhood, just two blocks from Vestal Elementary School.

Dawson compared it to an exhaust pipe from a big diesel truck.

“The big plume of smoke [is] the non-breathable, just nasty … black smoke,” he said.

He’s not the only one mad. Others have complained to DEQ and the city of Portland. So far they’ve gotten nowhere.

“There’s no protection to the community,” said Leslie Byster, against a business that’s “burning bodies and spewing toxics very close to a school and next door to people’s residences.”

Another man living within a block of the crematorium said noise from there drowns out the sound of his wife playing the piano — even when all the doors and windows are closed.

“The main concern for me is not the noise,” Sven Werner said. “It’s the toxic that comes out as black smoke. We have a garden; we don’t know if we can eat our vegetables.”

KOIN 6 News did make contact with the funeral home Wednesday afternoon, offering to give it a chance to address some of the neighbors’ concerns. The funeral home declined that offer.

The city of Portland has received a noise complaint and reports it’s in the process of investigating it. According to the Department of Environmental Quality, the crematorium’s smoke emissions are in compliance with state law.

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