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Sunday, August 22, 2010

I See Dead People

There's Dead People On The Side Of The Building

Don't accuse the dearly departed of not leaving a mark.
It's certainly not true of those cremated by Apollo Crematorium, one of the state's most busy incinerators of human remains.

The longstanding Emeryville business, whose attempted relocation to Richmond was scuppered by protest, continues to operate where it always has. But the once heavily industrial area is now blossoming with chic loft residences and sprouting trendy businesses.

Richmond residents, already enduring refinery releases, successfully blocked the move in 2007 citing mercury toxicity, presumably from burnt fillings.
Meanwhile, though the crematorium and its smokestacks have been hemmed in by development, it is no longer invisible to casual observers.

An off-white ashen smear mars more than 100 square feet of the metal-clad side of AgeSong, a $29 million assisted living facility with about 160 residents. The discoloration reaches all the way up to the building's roof deck.
While death is ultimately part of life, having 3,000 to 4,000 cremations a year drifting past your window, maybe a little bit more of a reminder than necessary that life is after all cruel, brutish and short.


  1. I live right next door, and the one plus is that it's a great conversation topic when I have guests over - it fires up some really bad jokes, especially when I bring up that our other neighbors are a seniors facility! The subject comes up usually when they ask about the noise those ovens make, which we hear around the clock for the most part. In reading about their attempted move to Richmond and the facts that were brought up in their defense, I was convinced they're a safe neighbor, and I even felt some sympathy. But the stains on the building (which have only taken a few months to develop) have me feeling differently. So far I'm still maintaining my sense of humor, though!

  2. It is amazing that Age Song would allow their elderly residents to use the deck which is directly above the stacks. According to Health Risk experts, the dioxin levels of cremated human remains is toxic and above allowable levels. The Bay Area Air District continues to ignore the problem and not follow up to determine if the Appolo Crematorium is following current allowable standards. With the ICON apartments and Age Song blocking the prevailing winds, Age Song appears to not be payng attention to an obvious health issue and is not being responsible to its clients. I wonder what the Planning Department is thinking?


  3. I think what is going on is that Mercury poisoning takes years and years to screw you up. I suppose the planning commission, developers and public health authorities figure that since the old folks are already "on the way out," it doesn't really matter.