February 28, 2024


Advocacy. Mediation. Success.

A Special Olympics Post

By Alix Rogers

A particular Olympics submit! On Thursday, February 22, the sixteenth working day of this Winter Olympics, 4-time Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn shared with the information media that she had scattered the ashes of her grandfather close to where by the downhill races had been run. Her grandfather served throughout the Korean War and she preferred to return component of him to that place.  1st off, I think it was amazing for her to include things like her grandfather in her particular Olympic second.  I assistance households honoring their liked kinds in significant and symbolic approaches.  In my ability as a scholar of the law and the physique, I preferred to comment on the transportation and scattering of human cremated continues to be.  It turns out there are remarkably complex and, at the very same time, remarkably lax regulations.

Scattering is commonplace, “[a]ccording to the Cremation Association of North America (CANA), just one-third of people today who obtain cremains bury them, just one third retain them, and the past third scatter them.”[1]  Scattering ashes, based on the location, can result in a somewhat complex set of legal necessities.  My guess is that in fact couple households comply with these. Ashes, primarily modest sentimental amounts, can be transported and scattered additional-lawfully extremely conveniently.  Therefore, even those who do violate these legislation are extremely not likely to be caught, let alone billed or sued in civil courtroom.  But, assuming just one did want to scatter and transportation ashes in whole compliance with the law, what may possibly you want to seem into?

Each individual place has its have rules about the disposition of cremated continues to be.  Within the United States point out law, typically under the health and protection code, applies.  There are no uniform legislation, and regulations vary point out-by-point out.  In California scatterings are permitted in “areas where by no regional prohibition exists, presented that the cremated remains…are not distinguishable to the general public, are not in a container, and that the human being who has control over disposition of the cremated remains…has received written authorization of the house operator or governing agency to scatter on the house.”[2]  Failure to get the written authorization of a house operator can consequence in a misdemeanor for violating the state’s health and protection code.  Nonetheless, these conditions are possible not often described, let alone followed up by the law enforcement.  In 2007, staff members at Disneyland described a woman who was suspected of scattering ashes in the water of the Pirates of the Caribbean trip.  The law enforcement in the end determined to not even file a report because of to a deficiency of proof.[three]  My guess is that in California, convictions resulting from incorrect disposition are extremely exceptional.

Some states do not look to have explicit necessities for written authorization.  Consent is preferable, nonetheless since personal landowners could always pursue a trespass motion in tort, or a prison demand of defiant trespass.  These steps are only possible to manifest in scenarios where by the disposition of the continues to be is finished in a especially general public manner.  A single of the couple conditions that has resulted in a conviction arose in Pennsylvania which does not look to have an explicit cremated continues to be statute like California.  The kid of a deceased avid Eagles admirer was found responsible of defiant trespass, fined $100 and presented fifty-hours of group service after he ran onto the field and scattered his mother’s ashes throughout a football recreation.[four]  Philadelphia Eagle’s supporters are infamous for their devotion, and it appears that this passion carries on even after death.  It appears to be that various supporters described scattering ashes throughout the training course of the celebratory parade marking the Eagles’ 2018 Superbowl gain![5]

At the federal amount, there are a minimal number of appropriate limits on the scattering of ashes. For example, for ocean burials the EPA concerns permits by means of the Maritime Safety, Analysis and Sanctuaries Act (MPRSA).  To lawfully scatter cremated continues to be at sea, the Agency requires that it is notified inside of thirty days of the burial and that any continues to be be scattered at minimum three nautical miles from land.[6]  Apparently although it is legal to scatter cremated human continues to be at sea, it is illegal to scatter cremated animal continues to be.  A further pleasurable fact is that it is not permitted to use a rocket or a balloon to transportation the ashes out to sea.[seven]  For federal parks, the countrywide park service maintains a discover and free permit procedure for the scattering of ashes.  To scatter ashes at Yosemite countrywide park, just one will have to first get a permit and agree to adhere to a set of conditions about placement.  These include things like necessities to keep at minimum 100 feet from a water source, that the location is away from site visitors places, and that continues to be are scattered adequately to reduce accumulations.[8]

Provided that it is possible that many people do not comply with current regulations, it is worth noting that the best damage from failing to comply with these necessities and regulations is negligible on an unique amount.  Correctly cremated and dispersed ashes pose no sizeable health hazards, primarily in modest volumes.  Nonetheless, complications can come up if a scattering location gets to be much too well known.  Notably, in 2009, “staff at the Jane Austen House Museum in Hampshire discovered piles of human ashes scattered close to the novelist’s property and gardens….”[nine] Piles of ashes can be especially disturbing to the general public if the ashes are not appropriately pulverized, and chunks of human bone or tooth keep on being.

Apart from the issue of disposition, there is the secondary issue of transportation.  According to the TSA, cremated ashes are permitted as both have-on or checked baggage.[ten]  The agency endorses the use of a non-metallic container, as they will have to be capable to x-ray it.  Each individual airline has individual rules about baggage as very well.  Delta, for occasion, allows cremated continues to be in have-on or checked baggage,[eleven] but requires a death or cremation certification.  United in contrast mandates that ashes exclusively vacation as have-on baggage,[twelve] and only strongly encourages acceptable documentation.  Ultimately, the Unites States Postal Services “offers the only legal strategy of transport cremated continues to be domestically or internationally.”[thirteen]  Fed Ex and UPS will not knowingly transportation cremated continues to be.  The postal service has a individual Cremated Stays label that really should be affixed to the package, and the contents will have to be detailed on the box – “Mom”? “Grandpa”? Notably, nonetheless, the postal service leaflet does not point out insurance solutions.

Astonishingly, traveling internationally with cremated human continues to be appears to be mostly unrestricted.  The United States Customs and Border Manage Agency does not look to have any necessities close to importing or exporting human cremated continues to be.  I could come across no necessities for exporting and they explicitly point out on their web page that there are no necessities for importing cremated continues to be.[14]  A death certification is, for occasion, not required.  In addition, it appears to be that human continues to be may be just one of the only issues that you could ‘easily’ import or export from some nations.  There are exceptions for the import and export of human continues to be from both of those Iran and Sudan.[fifteen]  I could not, nonetheless, come across an exception for North Korea.  Importing or exporting human cremated continues to be internationally could elevate a host of rules and regulations in the other place.  Nonetheless, normally there are negligible necessities, if any, because of to the reduced biohazard chance of cremated continues to be.[sixteen]

So do we have motive to think that Vonn violated American or South Korean legislation?  My guess is most possible not, and even if she did, any official sanction is (and really should be) not likely.  As revealed, traveling, even abroad, with cremated continues to be can normally be achieved lawfully with minor to no paperwork.  The major source of worry is whether the privately owned resort gave authorization, but this may not even be a need under South Korean law.  Hugely emotional and particular decisions, these kinds of as the disposition of liked kinds continues to be, are normally made by people with no whole thing to consider of the law.  Higher profile scenarios can supply us with moments to pause and mirror on neglected, but significant, legislation.

Alix Rogers, JD, PhD, is a CLB and SPINS fellow.





[1] https://concepts.time.com/2013/06/thirteen/cremation-is-on-the-increase-but-where by-to-set-the-ashes/

[2] Cal. Well being & Protection Code § 7116 (West).

[three] https://www.latimes.com/vacation/la-trw-disney14nov14-tale.html.

[four] https://www.espn.com/nfl/information/tale?id=2239860.

[5] https://www.philly.com/philly/super-bowl-lii/eagles-parade-philadelphia-supporters-ashes-route-20180208.html.

[6] https://www.epa.gov/ocean-dumping/burial-sea#Can_I_scatter_inland_waters. Furthermore, ocean scatterings in California are unable to manifest inside of five hundred yards of the shoreline.  https://www.cfb.ca.gov/licensee/crd_booklet.pdf.

[seven] https://www.epa.gov/ocean-dumping/burial-sea#Can_physique_areas_be_buried.

[8] https://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/add/ashes.pdf.

[nine] https://www.theguardian.com/surroundings/2009/jan/eighteen/cremations-ashes.

[ten] https://www.tsa.gov/vacation/safety-screening/whatcanibring/merchandise/cremated-continues to be

[eleven] https://www.delta.com/articles/www/en_US/traveling-with-us/baggage/ahead of-your-excursion/particular-merchandise.html.  (this section also addresses Xmas trees, who understood!).

[twelve] https://www.united.com/website/en-US/articles/vacation/baggage/fragile.aspx.

[thirteen] https://about.usps.com/publications/pub139.pdf.


[fifteen] 31 C.F.R. § 560.542 and 31 C.F.R. § 538.535.

[sixteen] Equally Canada and Australia notice the deficiency of biohazard chance and diminished limits on cremated continues to be.   https://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/publications/dm-md/d19/d19-nine-three-eng.pdf  https://www.health.gov.au/internet/major/publishing.nsf/Written content/E29F8E3133FB783CCA2581A7007FF5E6/$File/Human-Stays-Truth-Sheet.pdf