Burial at Sea
Veteran Disability Lawyer
The tradition of burial at sea is an ancient one. On a listserv an attorney asked if he could paddle out onLake Michiganand spread the cremains of his brother. Only an attorney would worry about the regulations!
Yes, US EPA regulates such activity. 40 CFR 229.1 contains the basic requirements for burials at sea. Burial of non-cremated remains must take place at least 3 nautical miles from shore in water at least 600 feet deep. Also, measures must be taken to ensure that the remains sink permanently to the bottom.
Burial of cremated remains must also take place at least 3 nautical miles from land, but the water does not have to be any required depth.
There is no permit requirement by the EPA prior to the burial. However, the EPA must be notified of the burial within the 30 days following its occurrence. Additionally, coastal states may have specific guidelines or permit processes that must be followed regarding burials at sea.
The EPA does not regulate burials in inland lakes and rivers; this is supposedly regulated by the states under the Clean Water Act. However,Michigandoes not have any statutes or regulations stating what requirements there are, if any, for the burial of a loved one inMichigan’s lakes or rivers.
My advice is, don’t ask your lawyer relative to undertake this final request.