From Iceland — Parliament Considers More Liberal Sprinkling Of Ashes

Parliament Considers More Liberal Sprinkling Of Ashes

Published January 22, 2021

John Pearson
Photo by
Ralf Skirr on Unsplash

The Icelandic parliament is considering a proposal which would remove restrictions on the scattering of human ashes at tourist sites.

Currently, relatives must apply for permission to disperse the ashes of departed family members anywhere outside a cemetery. Many of these requests come from foreigners with no direct connection to Iceland, but who want to scatter the earthly remains of loved ones over iconic locations such as Gullfoss, or under Seljalandsfoss.

The bill is proposed by Bryndís Haraldsdóttir, MP for the Independence Party. However RÚV reports that the complete removal of controls is opposed by various concerned parties, including the District Commissioner in North East Iceland, Svavar Pálsson.

Svavar points out that the current restrictions are in line with those of neighbouring countries, and that Icelandic rules on cremation are strict—including a minimum temperature of 850ºC to ensure that only ash remains.

“Since a considerable number of those who want to distribute ashes in this country come from abroad, it is not possible to ensure that cremation was carried out this way,” Svavar said. However, he added that he was open to a simplification of the current rules.

The Cemetery Council and the Cemeteries Association of Iceland have also expressed concern at the proposal. They have pointed out that they have received no complaints regarding the current arrangements, and are worried by the prospect of a potential ash-scattering free-for-all.

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