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Posted on Sun, Sep. 26, 2004

Mixing ashes in concrete picks up as burial option

The New York Times

To the many ways Americans can honor the remains of the dearly departed - blasting their ashes into space or freezing the remains or simply sealing the body in a coffin, among others - add one more option: mixing the cremation ashes with marine-grade concrete and forming an artificial reef, a home for the fish and the coral.

So it was that on Tuesday, joining the decommissioned Army tanks that already have been lowered to the sandy ocean floor off South Jersey, were the mortal remains of Robert Aronson, an avid ocean fisherman; Cecelia Schoppaul, who could watch the surf roll in for hours; and Charles Wehler, who hated swimming but loved the South Jersey shore. Their relatives watched from a chartered fishing boat about seven miles off Atlantic City.

Eternal Reefs has placed about 200 reef-ball memorials since its founding, mostly along the Gulf Coast states. Tuesday's "placement," as they call it, is their farthest north. But the company is eager to begin selling in vacation and resort areas off the mid-Atlantic coast because vacation spots are places that families return to often.

The company offers three sizes, of 400, 1,500 and 2,000 pounds, costing between $1,000 and $5,000. There also are two models for pets, for $400 and $500. The reef balls are cast with most of the weight at the bottom, to provide stability while the hollow design and holes dissipate energy from currents. The concrete used is nonacidic, and the surface is roughened and dimpled to encourage coral growth.

A brass plaque marks the name and dates of the person being memorialized.

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