At the request of the City of Geneva, two studies were carried out by external agents on the quality of basements in the municipal cemeteries.
Office Ecoservices carried out soil analyzes (subsoil strata), microbiological, hydrogeological and a pollution study. THE French-speaking university center for forensic medicine himself, carried out a taphonomic analysis (concerning the genetic, chemical and physicobiochemical factors of body degradation).
Implementation of recommendations
It appeared that the basementscomposed mainly of compact clays, retaining water, poorly oxygenated and therefore poor in bacteria, can influence negatively the weathering process of the deceased.
An old problem since it was already mentioned at the end of the 19th century in the debates of the Municipal Council.
Other factors also come into play, such as:
- the choice of funerary monuments,
- burial depth,
- the transformation of bodies linked to progress in medicine,
- pollution inherent to human activities.
The Administrative Council of the City of Geneva has decided to implement main recommendations experts, namely:
- ventilate basements by the integration of materials more conducive to the alteration of bodies;
- ban the use of pesticides by third parties (already prohibited in the context of the maintenance of green spaces in municipal cemeteries for more than 15 years) for the maintenance of graves;
- privilege the installation of vertical funerary monuments.
To these points is added a request for authorization made to the Council of State and accepted by it, to to modify there burial depth in the future “natural” district in Châtelaine (1m20 instead of 1m70 depth).
Creation of a “natural” district in Châtelaine
The work towards the creation of this “natural” neighborhood has Chatelaine, carried out jointly by the Department of Social Cohesion and Solidarity and the Department of Finance, Environment and Housing, will begin in the fall of 2024 for an inauguration planned for spring 2025.
A fifty locations are considered. People who wish to rest there or their family undertake to respect some number of principles taken over by the Funeral services, cemeteries and crematory:
- prohibited embalming treatments,
- wearing biodegradable clothing (cotton, linen),
- reduced size of the monument,
- coffin made of native, unvarnished wood,
- ornament with native and perennial plants maintained directly by the Green spaces service, tombstones from Switzerland or neighboring countries.
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