Freeze drying dead is 'realistic', minister claims

Image caption Cremations, which are widely accepted, were only introduced in Britain in the late 19th Century, the minister said

A senior politician in Jersey has said freeze drying the dead is a "realistic" alternative to cremation or burial.

Planning and Environment Minister Rob Duhamel said the process was better for the environment and would also address a growing problem of burial space.

The process involves freezing a corpse with liquid nitrogen, then vibrating it to reduce the body to powder.

As it would require a change to the cremation and burial laws, Mr Duhamel is seeking legal advice.

Air quality

"Every parish has a cemetery and some are almost at saturation point," he told BBC News.

"I'm already seeing more planning requests to rezone extra land and getting enquiries about scattering ashes in woodland.

"I really believe freeze drying is a realistic alternative and could be the best way forward."

The minister, who first mooted the possibility of freeze drying in February, said he has been studying scientific research into the method which has been carried out by Swedish biologist Susanne Wiigh-Mäsak at a company called Promessa Organic Burial.

"This is also a much greener alternative, which could help address some air quality issues we have," he said.

Mr Duhamel said burying freeze-dried remains would require a much smaller plot.

"Instead of a six to seven foot plot, it would require a smaller package - probably about one to two feet," he said.

"The remains would not be buried as deeply and would quickly turn into soil."

"I don't think there are any moral or ethical issues either - after all cremations are widely accepted now but they only started in Britain just over 100 years ago."

The minister also suggested if the method was approved by the States and introduced, the process could create jobs and boost the local economy.

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