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ST. THOMAS (3/20/06)- St. Thomas could get an official underwater graveyard if a permit to place artificial "eternal reef balls" off its shores is approved. The perforated hollow balls, already in place along the coastlines of Florida, Texas, New Jersey and other states, are made of concrete, with the ashes of cremated bodies mixed in. Such balls allow loved ones to "live on" as their remains become part of a structure that shelters fish and provides coral and algae a place to flourish, according to Dependable Maritime Services who've proposed the project. They've applied for a major water permit from the V.I. DPNR to place reef balls in 3 locations around the island. The company would set up to 12 balls in Brewers Bay, 12 at Coki Point and 38 near Inner Brass Cay- the only ones to include ashes. Environmental impacts are said to be slim if well placed and don't shift or move in major storms.

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