CULLMAN, Ala. (WIAT) — The lab which is testing an unknown liquid coming from the mausoleum at Cullman Memory Gardens should have test results by the end of this week, and possibly by the end of the day, according to State Senator Paul Bussman of Cullman.
The liquid leaking from a mausoleum at Cullman Memory Gardens is one of many concerns facing patrons of the property. The cemetery is in bankruptcy and it’s not the first time.
Since mid-June, notice has been posted that the mausoleum is closed until further notice by order of the Northern District Bankruptcy Court Trustee. Two funeral directors in Cullman tell us they’ve been contacted by families who want to move the remains of loved ones away from the mausoleum, but aren’t allowed to right now. Likewise, they say apparently no one can be entombed there.
“It’s just very unfortunate, but the mausoleum has been, to my understanding deemed unsafe at this time. So we’ll have to wait and see until they get all the bugs out and see what’s going on and whether we’ll ever be able to get back into it or if somebody will have to build another one,” Gary Murphree, Moss-Service Funeral Home.
Betty Cheuvront says she has $15,000 tied up in the cemetery in prepaid contracts and she’s desperate for answers. She says during a recent cleanup she witnessed two elderly women hauling dirt to fill in a grave where the vault could be seen from the surface.
“I feel like I’ve been robbed and I told my sister and my brother both, I said whatever ya’ll do don’t die on me now. I said because I don’t have a dime to bury you with. And see that’s the way they did all of us,” said Cheuvront.
Cheuvront says she is now leading a grassroots effort to have the cemetery turned over to the patrons because at this point they’re taking care of it anyway.
We contacted the bankruptcy trustee, Robert Morgan, who declined to comment.
There is also reported to be a roof leak at the mausoleum so some of the cemetery patrons speculate that the leak is just water.
Others fear it may be related to the bodies inside.
Sherry Bradley, M.P.A., Director of the Bureau of Environmental Services for the Alabama Department of Public Health, tells us that hypothetically, even if the liquid did test positive for something other than water, ADPH wouldn’t have the authority to take action under existing state law.
Bradley says Alabama has health related guidelines for cemeteries, but not regulations that can be enforced. She acknowledged that a county health worker did investigate complaints of a foul smell coming from the mausoleum earlier this year, but once that worker determined that the leak was not sewage related, the state no longer had any real jurisdiction.
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