TOWN OF TONAWANDA, N.Y. — The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has launched an investigation into the crematory owned by the Amigone Funeral Home on Sheridan Drive after town councilmembers and residents shared their concerns over what they saw coming from the crematory.
On Wednesday, several concerned residents shared photos on social media of thick black smoke coming from the crematory.
“We need to know more, and we need to know now,” said Councilwoman Shannon Patch. “As I was driving down Sheridan, I was ready to pull over and call 911 because I thought a restaurant or home was on fire. Instead, it was the crematory, running business as usual – and that’s not right. The taxpayers in this neighborhood should not have to wonder about what is going into the air they breathe, and into their backyards."
Residents had complained in the past of the strong odor and ashes the come from the building.
"Human flesh is not pleasant, can you imagine that smelling human flesh," said Ron Labuda, a nearby resident.
The New York State DEC is aware of the concern and provided this statement to 2 On Your Side:
"On Wednesday, DEC immediately responded to public reports of black smoke emanating from the Sheridan Park Crematory smokestack at Amigone Tonawanda Chapel at 2600 Sheridan Drive in the Town of Tonawanda. The smoke was reported at approximately noon and lasted for approximately one hour. DEC’s investigation into the cause of the smoke is ongoing. Additional information will be provided when it is available."
The crematory on Sheridan Drive shut down in 2012 after years of complaints from neighbors. In 2014, the county blocked it from reopening. And, in 2016, a judge said it could reopen, and the company worked with the state to meet new emission standards.
Town of Tonawanda Supervisor Joe Emminger responded Wednesday evening that he contacted the NYS DEC to investigate. This is the message he said he received from the DEC:
"“Apparently they burned one large body followed by another large body which caused the chamber to overheat. Due to the excessive temperature the pollution control system is bypassed with direct discharge out of the stack. We are still trying to gather additional information and are evaluating next steps from a regulatory perspective.”
The DEC says prior to Wednesday, Amigone has been in compliance with its permit, which expires in 2022. The owner of Amigone spoke to us briefly off-camera saying there will be an internal meeting Friday to discuss what happened.