A cremated remains disposer (”CRD”) disposes of, or offers to dispose of, cremated human remains by scattering the ashes. These individuals must be registered in California with the Cemetery and Funeral Bureau (“Bureau”) to do so, and are highly regulated by the Business and Professions Code (“BPC”) and the Health and Safety Code (“HSC”), and regulations contained in the California Code of Regulations (“CCR”).
Licensed cemeteries (certificates of authority), crematories, funeral directors, cemetery brokers, cemetery salespersons, and any person with the right to control disposition of the cremated remains or that person’s designee, provided the person with the right to control disposition or the designee does not dispose of more than 10 cremated remains a year, do not have to be registered as a CRD (BPC § 9740).
Besides registering as a CRD, a permit is also required to scatter remains. Cremated remains may not be scattered unless an Application and Permit for Disposition of Human Remains has been obtained from a local registrar of births and deaths (HSC § 103050), and the permit must specify the address or description of the place where the cremated remains will be scattered (HSC § 103055). This permit is required for anyone scattering remains, regardless of whether they are registered as a CRD.
Any place used by the CRD for the storage of cremated remains is subject to random, unannounced inspection by the Bureau to ensure compliance with the law (BPC § 9744.5(a)(2)). Violations are subject to disciplinary action by the Bureau, and may include a warning letter, an administrative citation or citation with fine, or an administrative accusation (CCR § 2382).
The regulations for citations and fines were recently amended and went into effect January 1, 2016. Under the new regulations, the maximum administrative fine has been increased over 200% to $5,000, from the previous $1,500 max (CCR § 2383). In addition, the separate class levels of violations have been eliminated, to allow the Bureau more freedom in assessing higher penalties where warranted. The old law also listed specific violations that were subject to citation. As a result, anything not listed could not be cited, and the Bureau was limited to issuing a letter of warning or pursuing disciplinary action against a licensee.
Some of the most common violations found during compliance inspection of CRDs are:
- Failure to obtain a permit for disposition of human remains (9744.5(a)(2))
- Failure to maintain remains in a durable container (7054.6(b)(2))
- Disposing or scattering cremated remains in a manner/location that the remains are commingled with those of another person (7054.7(a)(2))
- Failure to remove cremated remains from their container prior to scattering in authorized areas or at sea (7116 and 7117(a))
- Failure to scatter within 7 days of transfer from durable container to scattering urn (7117.1)
- Failure to maintain cremated remains in a responsible manner and/or keep free from the elements (9744.5(a)(2))
- Failure to scatter cremated remains without, or in accordance with, specific written instructions (9743)
- Storing cremated remains in a reckless manner resulting in the loss of all or part of the cremated remains (9749.3(a))
- Storing cremated remains in a reckless manner resulting in the inability to individually identify the cremated remains (9749.3(b))
The last two offenses (9749.3(a) and (b)), could also result in imprisonment in a county jail for up to one year, in addition to the fine.
Citations may be appealed within 30 days of the issuance of the citation, with a written request for a hearing to challenge the occurrence of the violation and/or the amount of the fine (CCR § 2386).