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scattering california

California scattering ashes at sea – law

scattering california
caflifornia law

 – Change in the law for burial at Sea

California State law signed off on the 10 July 2012.

Backed by the Funeral Directors Association, legislation has been brought in to establish a protocol for scattering ashes at sea.

It would appear that people have been using standard sealed plastic container or poly-urns to scatter at sea. Which is not the cleverest move, these urns are designed to be durable, water proof and what is more they float. As the Association puts it “We are respectful of the ceremonies surrounding the disposition of cremated remains but we have seen instances when the container shows the capacity for floating for long periods”

Existing law requires:

“After cremation has been completed, human remains are swept from the cremation chamber, processed to a uniform size and placed in a sturdy plastic bag sealed with an identification disk, tab or label. The bag is then placed in a durable cremated remains container.”

The analysis notes that a “durable container” is one which “is not easily broken or deteriorated and that keeps the cremated remains intact and free from the elements or from being spilled or lost.”

In California ashes can be:

  • interred in a cemetery, a mausoleum or niche.
  • kept at home or at a church or religious shrine.
  • scattered on private or public property if there’s no local law against it and the property owner gives written permission.

The new legislation is such:

        PASSED THE SENATE  JUNE 25, 2012
An act to add Section 7117.1 to the Health and Safety Code,
relating to dead bodies.
AB 1777, Ma. Disposition of cremated remains.
Existing law specifies the manner of disposition of cremated human remains, including allowing the remains to be taken by boat or by air, and scattered at sea, in accordance with specified procedures.
Existing law requires cremated remains to be removed from their container before the remains are scattered at sea.

This bill, notwithstanding the requirement that cremated remains be removed from their container before scattering, would authorize the remains to be transferred from a durable container into a scattering urn, as defined, no more than 7 days before scattering the cremated remains at sea from a boat.


[so basically the original law was fine up to a point but asked that the ashes be scattered from the urn (which didn’t always happen!) now you can use an urn designed to hold the ashes and quickly dissolve]




SECTION 1.  Section 7117.1 is added to the Health and Safety Code,

to read:


7117.1.  (a) Notwithstanding subdivision (a) of Section 7117, cremated remains may be transferred from a durable container into a scattering urn no more than seven days before scattering the cremated remains at sea from a boat. For purposes of this section,

“scattering urn” means a closed container containing cremated remains that will dissolve and release its contents within four hours of being placed at sea.

(b) This section shall not be construed to allow the use of a scattering urn when the cremated remains are to be scattered by a plane over land or at sea.


What is not clear to me is that if scattering by plane was already allowed, why they needed to make specific reference to plane scattering and the fact that a scattering urn not be used from a plane. Are they worried that people will through an urn from a plane?


In a nutshell: when in Californian waters use and urn design to dissolve.

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