Freedom of Air - Public Awareness of Outdoor Wood Boilers

Public Awareness and Reasearch of Outdoor Wood Boilers

News 2008 

This page is dedicated to any and all news stories we have found throughout the country that deal with Outdoor Wood Boilers.

      

 If at all you have found an article related to OWB's not already posted, please feel to let us know and we will post it. Contact us at freedomofair@yahoo.com.

December 31, 2008

Rules clear the air on outdoor stoves

Herald News Staff Reporter
Posted Dec 31, 2008 @ 06:19 PM
 
Although outdoor wood-burning furnaces have been around for more than a decade, they have only become popular over the last several years as oil prices have spiked. During that time, local officials have struggled with the units that come with no state regulations.
But that all changed Friday when the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection issued specific regulations on the wood-burning units that will set guidelines for all new and existing units.
Known as outdoor “Hydronic heaters” that burn wood to heat water that is piped underground to provide heat and hot water to an adjacent building, the regulations — put in place Dec. 26 — dictate how large a smokestack can be in comparison to a nearby home, how close the unit can be to a neighboring house and what can be burned inside a unit.
Swansea Conservation Agent Colleen Brown has heard stories from across the country about residents living near outdoor stove who have been inundated with smoke. The new regulations call for all new or existing smokestacks to be two feet higher than any roof structure within 150 feet of the unit. Those who already have the outdoor furnaces will have until March 1 to comply.
While some towns have passed certain regulations of their own on the furnaces, many towns haven’t, which is where problems can arise, Brown said. The state regulations will alleviate that problem. Where some abutter conflicts included accusations of burning garbage and other items in the furnace, DEP stipulates that only “clean wood” can be used to burn, that is seasoned wood that contains no paint, stains or other types of coating. Older units installed before Dec. 26 will be limited to using their units between Oct. 1 and May 15.
Swansea Building Inspector David Betts said the new regulations will give him and other building inspectors a road map to guide them. Typically, those who had wanted to construct an outdoor wood-burning unit had to go in front of the Zoning Board of Appeals to get a special permit for the construction while other residents have built them without a permit.
“We haven’t had that many problems here with this, but these regulations will help to stop any contentiousness between someone who bought one of these and the person who lives near to one,” said Betts. “I understand both concerns, with people looking for alternatives with the price of oil, but others are also questioning quality of air. Now with these regulations, we won’t have to be making those kinds of decisions on our own.”
Residential heaters must be located at least 50 feet from the house it is heating and at least 75 feet from the nearest abutter. Commercial-sized units will need to be at least 275 feet away from the property line and 300 feet from the nearest dwelling.
"People have a certain right to heat their homes but they don’t have the right to affect the neighbors adversely,” Betts said.
Joseph Lawrence, building inspector for Somerset, Dighton and Berkley, said although he hasn’t seen the DEP regulations yet, he said any guidelines will help point building inspectors in the right direction. Lawrence hasn’t had many problems with the furnaces in Somerset because he doesn’t allow them in neighborhoods where residents are cluttered.
“In a town like Somerset, you have houses in front of you, in the back and on both sides, and people who build these won’t put them near their house, they’ll put it near a neighbor's,” said Lawrence. “These units are supposed to burn clean, but there are some people that put junk wood inside to burn. This (regulations) will now make it easier for us, it will now give us something to step on.”

E-mail Jay Pateakos at jpateakos@heraldnews.com.

Full Article: CLICK HERE
 

December 31, 2008

State's new wood-fired boiler regulations limit emissions

State regulations put in effect last week set new standards limiting the amount of pollution emitted by outdoor wood-fired boilers (OWBs).

As of December 26, only heater models that meet the strictest emission standards, as listed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), will be allowed for sale and installation in Massachusetts, according to a press release from the state's Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). Currently, there is no federal emissions standard for OWBs, and there are only a few states that restrict particulate emissions from them.

Secretary Ian Bowles of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) said the new regulations foster the reduction of greenhouse gases and encourage the use of renewable energy sources, while protecting citizens' health.

The regulations unveiled on December 26 by MassDEP and the EEA also establish requirements to minimize the effects of newly installed OWBs on neighbors. Those include setbacks from property boundaries, minimum heights for smoke stacks, limits on burning outside the heating season (Oct. 1-May 15) for units close to neighboring houses, and a prohibition on burning anything except clean, seasoned wood.

An OWB, also known as a hydronic heater, is usually located apart from a house in a small, insulated shed with a smoke stack. The boiler is used to heat water that is carried through underground pipes to supply heat and hot water to buildings, greenhouses, and swimming pools. Sometimes OWBs can produce heavy smoke, which may expose people to health risks if the unit's smoke stack releases it close to the ground, according to MassDEP.

OWBs owned and operated by two residents in Vineyard Haven were the subject of controversy in 2006, leading Tisbury's board of health (BOH) to pass a moratorium on them for one year. In August 2007 the BOH adopted OWB regulations approved by MassDEP, which included a setback requirement of 900 feet from neighboring houses, effectively banning the operation of the two Vineyard Haven units.

The new state regulations set different setbacks for new units, depending on whether an OWB is residential- or commercial-sized. The new regulations do not require that OWBs installed or sold for installation before December 26 meet the emission standard.

Tisbury assistant health agent Maura Valley said yesterday that the board of health will likely review the new state regulations soon, to see how they compare with Tisbury's. "We can have regulations that are more stringent than state regulations, but not less," she said.

The regulations, a fact sheet summarizing their requirements, and a listing of the acceptable OWB units are available at mass.gov/dep/air/laws/regulati.htm.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

December 31, 2008

New rules govern use of outdoor furnaces

 By GEORGE CLAXTON Recorder Staff

GREENFIELD -- The state Department of Environmental Protection has issued new regulations governing the installation and use of outdoor wood-fired boilers that restrict how much smoke they put out and control how they can be operated.

 

According to Joe Ferson, a spokesman for the DEP, his agency has been working on the regulations for many months and they have promulgated the rules after considerable input from the public hearings in June.

Wood-fired boilers, also known as outdoor hydronic heaters, are generally located outside the structures that they heat in small, insulated sheds with short smokestacks that are usually 6 to 10 feet tall. They are used to heat water that is then piped underground to occupied buildings.

A major reason for the imposition of the regulations, officials said, is that outdoor heaters can produce heavy smoke and dangerous particulate matter that is released close to the ground, where it can linger and expose people nearby to health risks and nuisance conditions.

According to Ferson, wood smoke contains particles of various sizes, and a variety of toxic substances, including carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, benzene, naphthalene and poly-aromatic hydrocarbons.

Under the rules, which took effect on Friday, the regulations establish strict limits on total particle emissions from new units and requirements for the location and operation of all outdoor boilers purchased or installed in Massachusetts after that date.

The new regulations also limit what periods during the year older models can be used.

These regulations apply to all outdoor boilers, even if they were bought outside of the state and later installed in Massachusetts.

Ferson said that all units now sold in the state must be labeled as ''Phase II'' units and meet the new emission standards.

From now on, all wood-fired boilers must be located so as to minimize their impact on surrounding residents.

For residential-sized boilers, those with a thermal output of less than 350,000 BTUs per hour, they must be located at least 50 feet from the property line and at least 75 feet from the nearest occupied dwelling not served by the unit.

Commercial units, with a thermal output equal to, or greater than, 350,000 BTUs per hour, must be located at least 275 feet from the property line and at least 300 feet from the nearest occupied dwelling not served by the unit.

According to the DEP, any outdoor boiler with a thermal output over 1 million BTUs per hour must seek a site specific permit from the state.

Wood-fired boilers installed or sold for installation before Friday do not have to meet the new emission standard for total particle emissions. However, depending on how close they are to an existing residence and the height of their smoke stack, there may be limits on the times in which they can be operated.

These limits, according to the DEP, are designed to reduce the effects of smoke on neighbors.

Under the new guidelines, older wood-fired boilers that are less than 150 feet from a neighboring residence must have a smoke stack at least two feet higher than the roof of that home and may only be operated during the ''heating season'' which is defined as Oct. 1 to May 15.

Outdoor boilers installed more than 150 feet, but less than 500 feet from another residence are allowed to have a smoke stack at whatever height is suggested by the manufacturer, but are limited to operations during the ''heating season.''

If the wood-fired boiler is more than 500 feet from neighboring houses, there is no limitation on season of operation and the smoke stack can be set at whatever height is suggested by the manufacturer of the unit.

The DEP notes that people can apply for a variance in the setback from property lines for commercial units, but not for residential boilers.

''No outdoor hydronic heater is allowed to cause a nuisance for neighbors, or a condition of air pollution,'' Ferson said.

According to the state, only clean, seasoned wood, or other bio-mass approved by the DEP can legally be burned in outdoor boilers.

Garbage, tires, yard waste, construction debris and materials containing hazardous constituents such as plastic, asbestos, petroleum products, lead and mercury are forbidden.

The smoke and particles from wood-fired boilers has been linked to a number of health problems including decreased lung function, increased respiratory irritation, aggravated asthma, chronic bronchitis, irregular heartbeat, heart attack and premature death in people with existing cardiopulmonary problems.

Further information about the regulation of, or use of, wood-fired boilers can be found at the DEP Internet site at:

www.mass.gov/dep/air/laws/regulati.htm

You can reach George Claxton at: gclaxton@recorder.com or (413) 772-0261 Ext. 279

Full Article: CLICK HERE

December 30, 2008

Rules changed for wood-fired boilers

The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) and Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) unveiled new regulations that will protect air quality in neighborhoods across the Commonwealth by limiting the amount of pollution emitted by outdoor wood-fired boilers, also known as outdoor hydronic heaters.

Starting on Dec. 26, only heaters that meet the new standard for particulate emissions can be sold for installation in Massachusetts , which becomes one of only a few U.S. states to restrict hydronic heater pollution. There is currently no federal emissions standard for these devices.

“These regulations foster the reduction of greenhouse gases and encourage the use of renewable energy sources, centerpieces of Governor (Deval) Patrick’s energy and environmental policy,” EEA Secretary Ian Bowles said. “By requiring the sale of only the most protective heaters, we are protecting the health of our citizens. These new standards recognize that the use of wood – a sustainable biomass energy source – offers a safe renewable energy alternative for consumers.”

“MassDEP’s new regulations establish strict limits on particle emissions, and will ensure that the operation of these units will not degrade air quality for citizens across the Commonwealth,” MassDEP Commissioner Laurie Burt said. “Only heaters with advanced emission technology can be installed in Massachusetts , protecting the quality of life for all residents.”

Outdoor hydronic heaters are located in small, insulated sheds with short smoke stacks – usually six to 10 feet tall. They burn wood to heat water that is piped underground to supply heat and hot water to buildings, greenhouses, and swimming pools.

The heaters can produce heavy smoke and release it close to the ground, where it can linger and expose people in the area to health risks. Wood smoke contains particles of varying sizes and a variety of toxic substances, such as carbon monoxide and benzene. Health effects include decreased lung function, increased respiratory irritation, aggravated asthma, chronic bronchitis, and irregular heartbeats.

As of Friday, only heater models that meet the strictest emissions standards as listed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will be allowed for sale and installation in Massachusetts. A listing of those units can be found through MassDEP’s Web site at: www.mass.gov/dep/air/laws/regulati.htm

The regulations also establish requirements to minimize the effect of heaters on neighbors, including setbacks from property boundaries for newly installed units, minimum heights for smoke stacks, limits on burning outside the heating season (October 1-May 15) for units close to neighboring houses, and a prohibition on burning anything except clean, seasoned wood.

The full regulation and a fact sheet summarizing its requirements are also available on MassDEP’s Web site at the address listed above.

MassDEP is responsible for ensuring clean air and water, safe management and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes, timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills, and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources.


Full Article:
CLICK HERE

December 30, 2008

Fresh air?

State aims to end foul odors from outside boilers

Cumberland Times-News

Garrett County’s commissioners know they will have to put careful thought into enforcing new regulations that govern the outdoor wood boilers which — even though they are technically illegal — have been heating people’s homes in our end of the state for some time.

Discussing the matter recently, the commissioners said that health issues will have to be balanced with the fact that many people use the boilers to heat their homes.

Given the price of heating oil, electricity and natural gas, the boilers provide a good alternative for many residents of Western Maryland and nearby counties in other states.

A key element to the new standards is what constitutes acceptable fuel for these boilers.

That should come as good news to anyone with a neighbor who burns tires, dung, dead animals, garbage and anything else that generates a foul odor when it’s set afire.

Oddly enough, it has been legal to sell outdoor boilers in Maryland, but not to have them on one’s property. Enforcement has been limited to responding to complaints.

Why is the subject suddenly drawing the attention of state officials? Garrett County Health Department Rodney Glotfelty said it’s simply because the outdoor burners have mostly been a problem in Allegany and Garrett counties, but now, “They are moving down to Harford County.”

New state regulations place limits on particulate emissions and require that only fuels from clean heat sources can be used.

Local governments will be able to fine tune the regulations with regards to setbacks and the height of smokestacks, and can ban the boilers within town limits. In a rural setting, smoke often has room to dissipate without bothering nearby residents. That’s not always true within the confines of a town or city.

Garrett County has begun taking a look at the outdoor boiler issue, and we expect Allegany County will do the same.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

December 28, 2008

Air boundary set (OWBs mentioned)

Federal rule tailored to address the problem

Published Sunday, December 28, 2008

The federal Environmental Protection Agency drew a relatively tight circle around Fairbanks last week as it outlined the area where tiny particles in the air seem to pose a health problem.

The good news is that everyone outside that boundary won’t be subject to stringent air quality rules. Those rules could limit both the use of certain fuels by individuals and the development of large new businesses and government enterprises that produce a lot of particles simply due to their size.

The bad news is that everyone inside the boundary could be subject to these rules, which means it will cover the vast majority of Fairbanks North Star Borough residents.

Perhaps “bad news” is too comprehensive a term. If the limits are imposed, there will be some reduction in the concentration in fine particulates in the air and therefore a reduction in the long-term risks posed to us all by such pollution. And some of us may gain immediate relief from the annoying smoke belching from those outdoor boilers.

For many of us, though, the new rules will be expensive and inconvenient. We may be told to retrofit or replace wood- and coal-burning devices and generally refrain from burning at times when we might now have that option. Other measures may be necessary if the level of fine particulates in the air fails to cooperate. We’ll have to see what those measures might be.

The Borough Assembly will be the forum in which this will be hashed out, since the borough is the level of government that is given the first crack at figuring out ways to meet the EPA’s standards for fine particulates. Expect proposals to go before the Borough Assembly in the coming months.

The Alaska Legislature also might enter the discussion. The Assembly has asked the Legislature to change state law to allow “local tax reductions applicable to commercial, industrial and residential property in order to attain higher air quality.” The idea is that the borough could give residents here a tax break for replacing or upgrading their wood-fired heaters, especially those belching boilers mentioned above. The tax credit seems like a reasonable solution to a touchy problem, but again, details are still being discussed.

The EPA’s boundary, within which the new restrictions likely will be applied, stretches from the Cripple Creek, Ester Dome and lower Goldstream Valley neighborhoods eastward to Fox, North Pole and the Gilmore Trail neighborhoods.

Eielson Air Force Base was not included in the boundaries, which means the federal government will have greater freedom to add fuel-burning sources such as aircraft and power generation plants without fear of being blocked by federal environmental law. That’s encouraging news from an economic standpoint, and is apparently justified from an environmental standpoint for the time being.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

December 27, 2008

Emission limits proposed

Garrett commissioners considering implications of regulating heating devices

Sarah Moses
Cumberland Times-News

OAKLAND — With proposed regulations that would allow for the installation of outdoor wood boilers in Maryland that meet specific emissions standards, the Garrett County commissioners are going to have to consider how to enforce regulations.

“We have to be careful,” Ernie Gregg, commissioner, said during the group’s weekly public meeting. “We don’t want to have people deal with unhealthy conditions, but a lot of people rely on those to heat their homes.”

The proposed regulations would allow for Maryland homes to have the boilers on their property. While they have been legal to sell, the outdoor boilers are not legal to have on property in Maryland.

New regulations set to take effect April 1 would prohibit the sale, distribution and installation of only those wood boilers that do not meet an emission limit of .60 pounds of particulate matter per million Btu of heat.

There would also be requirements for acceptable and prohibited fuels for use in wood boilers. Acceptable fuels would include clean wood, wood pellets made from clean wood and heating oil. Fuels prohibited for use, which tend to generate complaints from neighbors as well, would include garbage, tires, manure and animal carcasses.

Existing units would be grandfathered in, said Steve Sherrard, director of environmental health at the Garrett County Health Department. As has been done in the past, Maryland Department of the Environment would require some form of enforcement based upon complaints. He said that although the boilers are illegal, the enforcement thus far has been on a complaint basis.

Once they are legalized, there would be the option to initiate some regulations for stack heights and setbacks at a local level. The local municipalities also have the option not to allow the burners within town limits.

“The one that formed my opinion (of the boilers) was someone who smoldered all year to heat their pool,” said Fred Holliday, commission chairman. “In the country it is not so bad, but in a municipality it is.”

John Nelson, director of Planning and Land Development, said he was unsure whether the county could set and enforce regulations without any form of zoning.

The commissioners questioned why there was a sudden move toward regulating the boilers when they had been around for years, despite being illegal.

“They are now moving down to Harford County,” said Rodney Glotfelty, director of the health department. “That’s why everyone’s worried about it now. It used to just be a Garrett County, Allegany County problem.”

Full Article: CLICK HERE

December 26, 2008

Wood burning restrictions go into effect Sunday

Michelle Reese, Tribune

Wood burning restrictions are in effect Sunday after the Maricopa County Air Quality Department declared the first pollution advisory for the winter season, according to a release from the department.

Restrictions are in place for 24 hours, starting at midnight. Wood and manufactured logs are included in No Burn Day restrictions.

Extremely high levels of particulate matter measuring 2.5 microns or less are expected to exceed federal health standards Sunday. It is advised that children, senior residents and those with respiratory illness limit time outdoors.

The pollution advisory follows several days of high pollution watches in the Valley last week.

The Maricopa County Air Quality Department is responsible for enforcing the residential wood burning restriction ordinance. If you see someone burning wood during a restricted time, please call the department at (602) 372-2703 or visit www.maricopa.gov/aq.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

December 26, 2008

New rules go into effect for wood-fired boilers

The boilers sit away from the house. But some say the smoke they produce is potentially harmful

By Globe Staff

Outdoor wood-fired boilers, which have sparked controversy in some parts of New England because of the smoke they spew, will be regulated more tightly, under new regulations that go into effect today in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts is one of only a few states that restrict pollution from such boilers, which are also known as outdoor hydronic heaters, state environmental regulators said.

Outdoor boilers are located in small, insulated sheds with smokestacks usually six to 10 feet tall. They burn wood to heat water that can then be piped to buildings, greenhouses, and swimming pools, the Department of Environmental Protection said.

Critics say the devices are noxious because they restrict air flow in order to slow combustion, the Globe reported in November. While the restriction allows wood to burn longer, it also builds up large amounts of soot and creosote, which are periodically released in billowing plumes that air quality officials say are potential health hazards.

Under the regulations, only heaters that meet a new standard for particulate emissions can be sold in the state. The regulations also include a variety of rules for new and existing units, addressing issues such as setbacks from property lines, smokestack heights, what can be burned, and when the boilers can be operated.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

December 25, 2008

Business Digest (OWBs mentioned)

Tougher rules for wood boilers

Tougher rules for wood boilers

 

Starting next month, outdoor wood boilers sold in New Hampshire must be marked with an orange tag showing they burn wood as much as 70 percent cleaner than existing models. The regulations will get even stiffer in 2010, when only white-tag models, indicating they reduce particle pollution by 90 percent, will be sold. New Hampshire is the third state to adopt rules regulating the outdoor, freestanding boilers used to heat a house or pool. About 2,000 outdoor wood boilers currently operate in the state. New regulations also govern placement of new boilers to minimize the impact on neighbors. Since August, if a new boiler doesn’t get the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s approval, it must be placed at least 200 feet from the nearest abutter and its smokestack must be 300 feet above the nearest peak. First-time offenders face fines of up to $250. Additional offenses may result in a fine of up to $500, according to Pamela Monroe, compliance bureau administrator for the state Department of Environmental Services Air Resource Division. The penalties don’t apply to existing boilers.

 

Full Article: CLICK HERE

December 23, 2008

NH regulating sale of outdoor wood boilers

Associated Press - December 23, 2008 10:55 AM ET

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Starting next month, outdoor wood boilers sold in New Hampshire must be marked with an orange tag showing they burn wood as much as 70% cleaner than existing models on the market.

The regulations will get even stiffer in 2010 when only white-tag models will be sold. They reduce particle pollution by 90%.

New Hampshire is the third state to adopt rules regulating the outdoor, freestanding furnaces used to heat a home or a pool. About 2,000 boilers currently operate in the state.

Regulations also govern placement of new boilers to minimize impact on neighbors.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

December 22, 2008

N.H. cracks down on wood boiler emissions

By Rebecca Correa
rcorrea@eagletribune.com

This is the last month outdoor wood boilers will be sold in New Hampshire without a special color-coded tag. The tags, orange or white, will signify the environmental friendliness of each boiler.

Beginning next month, outdoor boilers marked with an orange tag will signify a boiler is 70 percent cleaner for the environment than some models that are currently being sold.

In 2010, the regulations will be kicked up a notch, and only white-tag models, which will reduce particle pollution by 90 percent, will be sold.

New Hampshire is the third state in the nation to team up with the Environmental Protection Agency to adopt rules which regulate the home heating devices. Outdoor wood boilers, or furnaces, are freestanding units about the size of a shed.

Wood or wood pellets are used to fuel the devices; smoke is released from a smokestack. The boilers can heat a home or pool. Depending on the size of the boiler, prices can range from $5,000 to $10,000.

There's estimated to be around 2,000 outdoor wood boilers operating in the state right now, according to Pamela Monroe, compliance bureau administrator for the state Department of Environmental Services Air Resource Division.

Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-Exeter, was a sponsor of the new law. She said it wasn't just about being environmentally friendly, but about respecting the health of neighbors as well. Some of the state's 2,000 outdoor wood boilers are located in her district.

"I had constituents who were adversely affected by a neighbor's boiler," she said. "(The smoke) among other things, such as being sited poorly, affected neighbors."

Hassan said lawmakers tried to find a good balance between the needs of owners and the desires of neighbors. Since smoke is proven to be linked to lung and heart problems, Breathe New Hampshire joined the cause.

The result was an additional requirement for wood boiler owners. Since August, if the boiler doesn't get the EPA stamp of approval, it must be placed at least 200 feet from the nearest abutter and its smokestack must be 300 feet above the nearest peak.

And, like most legislation, there's a price to pay for those who don't comply. First-time offenders of either part of the new law will be fined up to $250. Each additional offense may result in a fine of up to $500, according to Monroe.

She said those who already own an outdoor wood boiler won't be penalized, but anyone who installs one from now can be. Since the change went into effect in August, Monroe said the number of complaints her office fields hasn't increased, but calls with questions about the law change have.

That's something employees at Central Boilers, one of the larger manufacturers of outdoor wood boilers, have been dealing with as well, according to Rodney Tollefson, company vice president.

"Quite a few questions have come in from our local dealers that the consumers speak with," he said. "There is some confusion about it, and other (questions) come in through our Web site."

But Tollefson said regulations that demand a more environmentally friendly product have been a long time coming. He said the company has spent the last several years testing new boilers and trying to make them more environmentally friendly.

Outdoor wood boilers that meet both the 2009 and 2010 change, being manufactured by Central Boiler, are already being sold in New Hampshire. While sales aren't booming yet, Tollefson expects the law to help, not hurt sales.

"I think it will have a positive effect on sales because people can buy a product knowing it's approved by the EPA," he said. "They can make their purchase knowing they've bought a clean and efficient furnace."

Tollefson said other manufacturers might not fare as well if they haven't met the EPA's standards yet.

"But we've had a furnace that has qualified for this for over a year," he said. "We have literally thousands of these qualified models in the fields and we do have a real good jump start that a lot of the other manufacturers don't have. I suspect they'll be playing catchup."

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

December 20, 2008

Burn ordinance approved in South Middleton

South Middleton Township supervisors Thursday unanimously approved an updated burn ordinance that sets guidelines for outdoor furnaces.

Outdoor furnaces are permitted in the township, but only on lots of at least 3.25 acres. Furnaces are not permitted in the following districts: village, village-commercial and commercial and industrial.

Under the new ordinance, furnaces must be placed no less than 500 feet from the nearest residential structure not on the lot where the boiler is located, and they must be set back at least 200 feet from the front lot line and 100 feet from the side and rear lot lines.

In addition, only dry “clean” wood or coal may be burned and usage is limited to Oct. 1 through May 1.

Any outdoor furnaces that are already in existence and have been permitted prior to the ordinance revision may not need to comply with all the new regulations, township officials say.

The new ordinance also mandates that any burning that produces noxious smoke on an adjoining property is prohibited and no open burning is permitted between dusk and dawn or on Sundays.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

December 20, 2008

Another great use for OWBs

Guard arrested over illegal surveillance

A state corrections officer at Gouverneur Correctional Facility placed a surveillance camera in an ornamental birdhouse in his home's bathroom to view guests in the room, state police allege.

Dennis J. Koerick Jr., 43, of 35558 Pulpit Rock Road, Antwerp, was arrested Thursday by the state police Bureau of Criminal Investigation on two counts of second-degree unlawful surveillance. He also is cited with tampering with physical evidence.

He was released on $1,000 bail in town of Antwerp Court and awaits grand jury action.

A spokesman for the Department of Correctional Services said he will be suspended without pay pending prosecution of the case. If convicted, he will be fired.

Police said a complaint was received Monday night from a person who suspected she saw a device that appeared to be a camera in the birdhouse. Before police arrived at his home to investigate, he is alleged to have destroyed the surveillance equipment in his outdoor wood boiler.

His setup enabled him to view in his bedroom activity in the bathroom, the investigator said.

Mr. Koerick has been a correctional officer since 1990 and was assigned to Cape Vincent Correctional Facility before transferring in 1995 to the Gouverneur prison.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

December 18, 2008

Forums in Warren, Hunterdon counties discuss Department of Environmental Protection oversight of wood-fired boilers

Thursday, December 18, 2008
By SARAH WOJCIK
The Express-Times
 

Heavy turnout among northwest New Jersey residents for two forums this week has state environmental officials re-evaluating regulations for outdoor wood-fired boilers.

Assemblyman Michael Doherty, R-Hunterdon/Warren, arranged meetings in Hunterdon and Warren counties on the heated topic.

About 150 people were present Monday in West Amwell Township and more than 200 turned out Tuesday evening at Warren Hills Regional High School in Washington Township, according to Doherty's office.

Along with residents, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and county health board officials were in attendance.

"The meetings were very productive," Doherty said Wednesday.

NJDEP Administrator of Air Compliance and Enforcement Ed Choromanski, who attended the meetings, said the department would be looking into clearer guidelines.

Investigation into a wood-fired boiler only after an official complaint is filed is "what we're considering right now," Choromanski said.

A NJDEP memo dated Oct. 21 gave officials permission to investigate outdoor wood boilers through anonymous tips, a change from a February 2007 memo requiring official complaints.

Doherty said many owners of wood-fired boilers at the meeting were willing and interested in how they can stay within state compliance.

"People want to know what they need to do to have certainty moving forward," he said. "You're talking responsible users here."

Full Article: CLICK HERE

December 17, 2008

South Middleton Township to discuss new burn ordinance Thursday

South Middleton Township supervisors will hold a public hearing Thursday on an updated burn ordinance that would set guidelines for using outdoor furnaces.

The township has a burn ordinance, but officials say it is incomplete.

“The main reason is the outdoor furnace,” explained Tim Duerr, chief of planning, zoning and codes enforcement. “The only thing we really changed was prohibiting (open) burning on Sundays and (the restriction on) smoke becoming a nuisance.”

Outdoor furnaces are permitted in the township, but only on lots of at least 3.25 acres. Furnaces are not permitted in the following districts: village, village-commercial and commercial and industrial.

Under the new ordinance, furnaces must be placed no less than 500 feet from the nearest residential structure not on the lot where the boiler is located, and they must be set back at least 200 feet from the front lot line and 100 feet from the side and rear lot lines.

In addition, only dry, “clean” wood or coal may be burned and usage is limited to Oct. 1 through May 1.

Duerr said any outdoor furnaces that are already in existence and have been permitted prior to the ordinance revision may not need to comply with all the new regulations.

The new ordinance also mandates that any burning which produces noxious smoke on an adjoining property is prohibited and no open burning is permitted between dusk and dawn or on Sundays.

The board is expected to vote on the ordinance at its meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday in the township building at 520 Park Drive.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

December 16, 2008 (video)

Hartwell Neighbors Fight Over Cost-Saving Wood Boiler

With all the reminders of winter weather around us - how would you like to heat your home right now for about fifty dollars a month? That's the approximate price a couple of Hartwell homeowners are paying as a result of using outdoor wood boilers. Rich Jaffe says their pleasantly decreased energy costs could soon be offset by unpleasant legal fees.

Two years ago Dale Fulton put in a wood boiler to heat his Victorian Hartwell home. "This month we got our utility bill and it was $64 and we heat a 3 story house, heat our water with it, do our laundry the whole nine yards and it does a great job."

A few doors away, the Vansky's also use one. Both families say the burners meet all local standards and they're just trying to heat their homes in an environmentally friendly way.

Fired up year 'round.... not everyone's fond of the byproducts. "The smoke coming out may look the same as the smoke coming out of the fire place but in fact the smoke is about 22 times more polluted as a result of the inefficient burn chamber of the outdoor wood fired boiler."

According to local officials there's nothing on the books dealing with regulations for units like this so there's nothing illegal about having one of these, the only time this would become a problem is if it rises to the level of being a menace in the community.

While some neighbors say they they're not concerned with the boilers, others with breathing problems say when the boilers are working they almost can't go outside. "Makes me mad like I said I been here 21 years and all of a sudden I should have to move? I told my landlord I might have to move because of it."

While people on both sides say they'd like to work out the issues in a neighborly way, they've both also hired attorneys.
 
Hamilton County doesn't have any ordinances banning the use of the boilers - but Springdale and Forest Park prohibit the use of outdoor furnaces. There's also an effort by some northeastern states to get federal EPA regulation of the units.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

December 16, 2008

Outdoor wood boiler regulations OK'd in North Londonderry Twp.

by BARBARA MILLER, Of Our Lebanon County Bureau
Tuesday December 16, 2008, 1:41 PM
 

PALMYRA--Outdoor wood boilers will be essentially limited to the more rural northern part of North Londonderry Twp., according to a new law passed by the township supervisors Monday night.

The law requires a two-acre parcel for use of outdoor wood boilers, which burn wood in a separate building to heat water, which can be piped underground into a home for heating and hot water.

North Londonderry Twp. will allow existing units to remain. Gordon Watts, township manager, said the two that are in use haven't generated complaints.

A resident's use of a boiler generated complaints in Cornwall, which banned them last year. South Lebanon Twp. bans them in residential zones but allows them in other zones.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

December 15, 2008

USA Today report on pollution near schools surprises Easton (OWBs mentioned)

BY KEVIN MILLER

BANGOR -- State environmental officials are reassuring the public about air quality around some schools after a national news report suggested that students in some Maine towns could be at risk from industrial pollutants.

Last week, USA Today published a series of articles that used computer modeling to analyze federal pollution data near more than 120,000 schools nationwide. A number of Maine schools scored poorly in the study, which ranked institutions on projected -- not actual -- pollution levels.

Much to the surprise of officials in Easton, two schools in the small Aroostook County town southeast of Presque Isle were ranked among the worst nationally. In fact, Easton Elementary School was projected to have the 10th highest pollution levels out of 127,800 schools.

"We certainly have never had a concern like that here," said Frank Keegan, who doubles as Easton superintendent and elementary school principal.

Jim Brooks, director of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection's Air Quality Bureau, said USA Today used older data and overstated the health threat of a chemical used at a factory near Easton Elementary School.

"I can safely say that there is no ... hotspot for toxic air emissions in Easton," he said.

Schools in Bradley, Rockland, Lisbon, Auburn, Jay, Baileyville and Millinocket, among others, also ranked within the top 15 percent nationwide in terms of potential pollution, according to the newspaper's model. Readers can search for schools by town at www.usatoday.com.

But Brooks said that the DEP collects more detailed emissions statistics than the federal data analyzed by the newspaper and that he is not aware of any major industrial air pollution problems near schools. A larger source of pollution in Maine, Brooks said, is wood smoke and car exhaust.

"I presume there are parts of the country where they do have problems," said Brooks, giving the example of a school near a coal-fired power plant. "We just don't have that in Maine."

EPA data

The country's largest circulation newspaper, USA Today used data compiled by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to calculate the potential health risks from industrial air pollution near schools.

The newspaper partnered with researchers at several major institutions, including the Johns Hopkins University and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, to analyze the data as part of an eight-month investigation.

The newspaper acknowledges in the methodology statement of its report that the model used to make the predictions had some limitations. The underlying EPA data were from 2005 and the model makes assumptions about topography, smokestack height and the toxicity of certain chemicals that could affect the results.

However, USA Today pointed out the EPA had never performed a similar task using its own data to identify such potential hotspots near schools. The study cited numerous examples of children falling ill due to pollution and of reported cancer clusters near some industrial facilities.

Several Maine observers said USA Today's computer modeling report underscores the need for additional monitoring and continued pressure on facilities to reduce pollution.

"I think it's another signal that we are putting way too much toxic materials into our environment, and our kids are most at risk from exposure to these toxic chemicals," said Matt Prindiville, toxics project director at the Natural Resources Council of Maine.

Brooks described the newspaper's modeling system as a "good tool" for identifying areas worthy of more thorough study.

But after looking at several of Maine's results, DEP staff found discrepancies or other flaws between state-gathered data and the newspaper's "broad-brush" approach, Brooks said.

The town of Easton, for example, has two major industries: McCain Foods' potato processing facility and Huber Environmental Woods. Together, the two facilities in 2005 discharged more than 2.7 million pounds of chemicals tracked by the EPA on its Toxics Release Inventory.

The vast majority of that -- 2.4 million pounds worth -- were nitrate compounds discharged by McCain's into nearby waters. The chemical that triggered the ominous ranking -- a compound known as diisocyanates -- was emitted by Huber's factory.

Inflated data

But Brooks said the report inflated by 60 times the toxicity of the pollutant. Huber uses a less toxic variant of diisocyanate than the type used in the calculations for Easton Elementary and nearby Easton Junior-Senior High School, he said.

The plant is also farther away from the two schools than shown in the report. And Huber recently installed new pollution controls that dramatically reduced emissions from 2005 levels, Brooks said.

According to the EPA's Toxic Release Inventory, Huber reported emitting 2,710 pounds of diisocyanates, 146,192 pounds of formaldehyde and 101,480 pounds of methanol in 2005. Emissions of the three compounds all declined slightly in 2006, the last year for which EPA data are available.

Keenan with the Easton schools said he has never seen or heard about air quality problems in his eight years at the school and a lifetime in the area. Keenan said he was frustrated that the report placed his town's schools so high on the at-risk list and is satisfied with the DEP's monitoring program.

"I feel very comfortable that they know the level of emissions ... and that there is no issue," Keenan said. "And Huber has always been a wonderful neighbor to us."

Not as confident

Norm Anderson, environmental health scientist with the American Lung Association of Maine, wasn't as confident as Brooks that industrial pollutants are not problematic at all Maine schools. Anderson also questioned whether enough research has been done on the risks associated with diisocyanates.

"I think the problem is we don't have a lot of data looking at ambient levels of these toxic chemicals," Anderson said. "So I wouldn't be as confident that there are insignificant risks" near schools.

Anderson agreed that pollution caused by wood burning in inefficient wood stoves or outdoor wood boilers and combustion of fossil fuels likely poses a greater risk to Maine residents. The American Lung Association, NRCM and other groups have also waged awareness campaigns about the health risks to children from cleaning products and other chemicals that release harmful vapors in schools.

"Our 30,000-foot view on the study is that anything that can move us toward a more systematic way to assess toxics in the ambient air would be a step forward for us," Anderson said.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

December 12, 2008

Pollution Control Officials Warn People About Fireplaces

The Minnesota Pollution Control agency disagrees... saying even though the newer, Environmental Protection Agency approved appliances emit less particulate matter than older models, they can still be harmful.

"Even the cleaner EPA certified stoves still emit up to 100 times the particulate matter that oil and gas burners do," says Beresford.

If you do choose to burn wood in your home, officials recommend you don't overload your firebox and make sure you burn clean and dry wood.

The P–C–A also suggests that people avoid the use of outdoor boilers.
Since the boilers burn large quantities of wood at a time, they emit a much larger quantity of particulate matter than a wood burning stove or fireplace.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

December 9, 2008

Delano latest municipality mulling exterior furnace ordinance

BY JILL WHALEN
STAFF WRITER
Published: Tuesday, December 9, 2008 4:11 AM EST

The Delano Township Board of Supervisors is set to adopt an ordinance that would regulate safety of exterior furnaces.

Chairman Paul Kuropatsky said supervisors directed solicitor William L.J. Burke to draft an ordinance after hearing residents’ concerns about outdoor furnaces.

“We also saw other municipalities adopting the (exterior furnace) ordinances,” he said.

Kuropatsky, however, wasn’t aware of any township residents using exterior furnaces to heat their homes.


But a lot of people are looking at alternative sources of fuel, and he believes it’s just a matter of time before the furnaces catch on.

“We wanted to have something in place before it got out of hand,” he said.

Supervisors are concerned about the impact the furnaces would have on public health and safety. Kuropatsky, who is also the township’s fire chief, researched exterior furnaces and found that “just about anything” can be burned in them.

The ordinance notes that the furnaces — which can be fueled by wood, coal and corn — could cause excessive smoke pollution, soot contamination, toxic air pollutants and offensive odors.

According to the ordinance, research has revealed that the smoke from those appliances stays low to the ground, and therefore, is inhaled by individuals who are outside. It can penetrate neighboring buildings and can worsen cardiovascular problems, trigger headaches and complicate respiratory diseases, it reads.

Under the ordinance, the furnaces would be restricted to parcels measuring at least 5 acres. In the township’s case, there are only a few parcels that size.

In addition, furnaces would have to be at least 50 feet from the nearest property line. The ordinance also sets parameters for chimneys, waste disposal and the fuel materials.

Those who wish to install an exterior furnace must apply for a permit and pay a fee. Violators face penalties under the ordinance.

Kuropatsky said all supervisors are in favor of the ordinance. It will be considered for adoption at the Jan. 5 meeting.

Most recently, the city of Pottsville and the boroughs of Freeland, Weatherly, Orwigsburg and Mechanicsville passed outdoor furnace ordinances.

Orwigsburg’s is the most strict — it bans exterior furnaces altogether.

Freeland Mayor Tim Martin noted that the borough adopted its ordinance in November.

Like Delano’s ordinance, it lists setbacks and the months during which the furnaces can be used.

“We want to make sure that they’re burning the proper materials in them,” Martin added.

The matter has also been before Freeland for some time. Martin said the first version had to be reworked.

Butler Township is also in the process of rewriting an outdoor furnace ordinance.

Township Manager Steve Hahn said the original version was rejected by supervisors after questions and concerns were raised at a public hearing.

It’s back before the zoning hearing board.

Hahn said that the setbacks are being reconsidered because some residents thought the original footage was too restrictive.

And, questions about using a chimney to vent the outdoor furnaces have to be answered before the ordinance is reconsidered.

But unlike Delano and Freeland, there are some Butler Township residents who use the exterior furnaces.

“It’s generally a farm situation,” Hahn said.

The township, however, has never received any complaints about the stoves.

jwhalen@standardspeaker.com

Full Article: CLICK HERE

December 7, 2008

Assemblyman Doherty to host meeting addressing use of outdoor wood fired boilers

by The Warren Reporter
Sunday December 07, 2008, 1:52 PM

Warren County Assemblyman Michael Doherty will host two public meetings on the topic of possible regulations governing outdoor wood fired boilers.

The first meeting will be held in Hunterdon County at the West Amwell Municipal Building, 150 Rocktown-Lambertville Road in Lambertville on Monday, Dec. 15 at 7:30 p.m. The second meeting will be held in Warren County in Room 124 at Warren Hills Regional High School, 41 Jackson Valley Road in Washington on Tuesday, Dec. 16 at 7 p.m.

Anyone who may be interested in this topic is invited to attend this public forum to voice their concerns.

The Hunterdon County meeting will be attended by Edward Chromanski, who is the administrator for Air Compliance and Enforcement with the state Department of Environmental Protection, as well as a representative from the Hunterdon County Health Department. The Warren County meeting will have a representative from DEP's Air Compliance and Enforcement, as well as an official from the Warren County Health Department in attendance.

Doherty said, "I think this will provide a great opportunity for citizens to share their concerns on the operation of these wood fired boilers in New Jersey. I hope that owners, and prospective owners of these units, will attend, as well as those who may object to their operation.

"I am of the opinion that any regulation, if necessary, should be implemented at the local level and thereby be crafted to allow operation based on the location or situation where the unit would be used. When these units are located away from other neighbors, and not annoying anyone, I don't see why they can't be used responsibly. I feel very strongly that if there is no injured party who signs a complaint that there is no cause to issue a summons."

Full Article: CLICK HERE

December 6, 2008

Two forums to be held in Hunterdon, Warren counties to discuss issue of outdoor wood-fired boilers

Saturday, December 06, 2008
FROM STAFF REPORTS

The issue of outdoor wood fired boilers is heating up in New Jersey, inspiring one state assemblyman to organize forums on the topic.

Assemblyman Michael Doherty, R-Warren/Hunterdon, announced Thursday two public meetings with boiler owners and experts. Doherty said in a news release he hopes to bring together supporters of the heaters as well as those who object to their operation.

A meeting for Hunterdon County is slated for 7:30 p.m. Dec. 15 in the West Amwell Municipal Building, 150 Rocktown-Lambertville Road in the township. Another meeting is planned for Warren County at 7 p.m. Dec. 16 at Warren Hills Regional High School, 41 Jackson Valley Road in Washington Township.

Ed Chromanski, administrator for air compliance and enforcement with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and a representative from the Hunterdon County Health Department are slated to attend the Dec. 15 meeting.

The Dec. 16 meeting is expected to have representatives from DEP's Air Compliance and Enforcement Office and the county's health department.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

December 4, 2008

Forums set in Hunterdon County for homeowners concerned about wood-fired boiler safety

 By WALTER O'BRIEN • Staff Writer • December 4, 2008

HUNTERDON COUNTY —A state legislator has announced two forums for homeowners concerned about the safety or legality of outdoor wood-fired boilers.

Assemblyman Michael Doherty R-Warren is holding an informational public meeting on outdoor wood fired boilers at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 15 at the West Amwell Municipal Building at 150 Rocktown-Lambertville Road in West Amwell in Hunterdon County.

A second meeting on the topic will be held at play 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 16 at Warren Hills Regional High School Room 124 at 41 Jackson Valley Road in Washington Township in Warren County. Interested parties are invited to attend either meeting.

The West Amwell meeting will be attended by Edward Chromanski, the Administrator for Air Compliance and Enforcement with the NJDEP as well as a representative from the Hunterdon County Health Department. The Washington Township meeting will have a representative from NJDEP's Air Compliance and Enforcement as well as an official from the Warren County Health Department in attendance.

"I think this will provide a great opportunity for citizens to share their concerns on the operation of these wood fired boilers in New Jersey,'' Doherty said. "I hope that owners, and prospective owners of these units, will attend, as well as those who may object to their operation.''

Doherty added that he feels that any regulations found necessary should be implemented at the local level to allow operation based on the location or situation.

"When these units are located away from other neighbors, and not annoying anyone, I don't see why they can't be used responsibly,'' Doherty said. "I feel strongly that if there is no injured party who signs a complaint that there is no cause to issue a summons."

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

December 4, 2008

Clifton: Outdoor furnace dispute burns on

Sarah Matara, Staff Correspondent, River Falls Journal
Published Thursday, December 04, 2008

The hot topic of this month’s Clifton Town Board meeting stems from a dispute between neighbors concerning illegal use of an outdoor furnace.

Jerry Dockendorf, N6385 1297th St., came to the Dec. 2 meeting to express his continuing concern to board members that his neighbor, Warren Quade, N6904 County Road F, is still using an illegal outdoor furnace after repeated warnings from the board to cease the activity. Apparently the illegal burning has been going on for quite some time.

According to Dockendorf, Quade has been burning oil and old pallet wood lately in the wood burning outdoor furnace, which is adjacent to the Dockendorf property. The burning materials smell and the property is not zoned for the use of an outdoor furnace.

According to Town Clerk Judy Clement-Lee, the town issued a citation to Quade, which he is then going to challenge in court on Monday, Dec. 15.

Dockendorf said he just wants the illegal burning to end.

“There has to be a simple solution,” Dockendorf said. “I fight with him every day of my life it seems.”

Supervisor Gregg Eggers agreed the situation needs to come to a resolution.

“We want to resolve this and get him to act responsibly,” Eggers said.

Dockendorf told board members he will be attending the Dec. 15 court appearance as a witness.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

December 4, 2008

McDonald sets meeting on outdoor boilers

McDONALD — Village Council is planning a public meeting next month regarding the use of outdoor wood boilers.

Some residents will likely use the devices as an alternative heating source for their homes while trying to get around anticipated high natural gas bills this winter, but some people don’t always use them properly, Councilman Scott W. Seitz said.

The boilers emit a lot of smoke, which can be a problem or health concern for neighbors, said Seitz, who also heads council’s planning commission.

No date has been set for the session.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

December 4, 2008

DOHERTY TO HOST PUBLIC MEETINGS ON OUTDOOR WOOD FIRED BOILER ISSUE

 

Assemblyman Michael Doherty will be hosting two public meetings on the topic of Outdoor Wood Fired Boilers.

 

The first of which will be held in Hunterdon County at the West Amwell Municipal Building 150 Rocktown – Lambertville Road in Lambertville on Monday, December 15 at 7:30 PM. The second meeting will be held in Warren County in Room 124 at Warren Hills Regional High School at 41 Jackson Valley Road in Washington, Tuesday, December 16 at 7 PM.

 

Anyone who may be interested in this topic is invited to attend this public forum to voice their concerns. The Hunterdon County meeting will be attended by Edward Chromanski, who is the Administrator for Air Compliance and Enforcement with the NJDEP as well as a representative from the Hunterdon County Health Department. The Warren County meeting will have a representative from NJDEP’s Air Compliance and Enforcement as well as an official from the Warren County Health Department in attendance.

 

Assemblyman Michael Doherty said, “I think this will provide a great opportunity for citizens to share their concerns on the operation of these wood fired boilers in New Jersey.  I hope that owners, and prospective owners of these units, will attend, as well as those who may object to their operation.”

 

“I am of the opinion that any regulation, if necessary, should be implemented at the local level and thereby be crafted to allow operation based on the location or situation where the unit would be used.  When these units are located away from other neighbors, and not annoying anyone, I don’t see why they can’t be used responsibly.  I feel very strongly that if there is no injured party who signs a complaint that there is no cause to issue a summons,” Doherty concluded.

 

Full Article: CLICK HERE

December 3, 2008

Ordinance proposal draws furnace debate

By FRITZ BUSCH, Journal Staff Writer

NEW ULM - Several citizens discussed the pros and cons of hydronic (outdoor wood) furnaces Tuesday at the New Ulm City Council meeting.

Discussion came after the first reading of an ordinance to amend Section 8.33 of City Code and Ordinance No. 08-064, Fourth Series, relative to hydronic furnaces.

Under the new ordinance, if requested by the owner, the Building Official may issue a conditional mechanical permit for an existing furnace that does not conform to requirements if it is in a state of good repair, has been installed in accordance with manufacturer requirements and specifications.

Existing furnaces cannot violate City Code Section 8.45 (public nuisance) or Section 8.31 (air pollution controls), or permits would be revoked.

City Council President Dan Beranek said he may not be on the council when the question comes up, but the council could elect to buy out existing furnaces that don't meet requirements, perhaps on a pro-rata basis.

City Inspector Dave Christian said outdoor wood boiler furnace best-burn practices change monthly due largely to issues in Northeastern states.

Nancy Grausam of New Ulm said her daughter suffered health issues due to heavy wood smoke in their South Payne Street neighborhood to the extent that she can't stay with them overnight.

"We can't go outside without smelling smoke. We all deserve to breathe clean air," she added.

Jack Grausam said he didn't want the smoke in his house or around his property. He said the issue was not a personal one for him, that all citizens of the city had a right to clean air. He said the ordinance change would allow the problems posed by older wood boiler furnaces to continue.

"The (Council's) first ordinance was good. A vote was taken. Now the process changes. Be confident in your original decision. Now we're creating an ordinance with a flawed application," Grausam said.

He gave the Council copies of a 35-page handout on wood furnace issues.

"A non-conforming wood furnace produces 10-12 times more (air pollution) particulates than an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved wood stove. It's 1,000 times dirtier than a gas furnace. A New York Times study showed a non-conforming furnace creates as much pollution as 45 cars or two heavy-duty diesel trucks," Grausam added.

"Children don't get to decide on the air they breathe. Responsible adults do," he said.

Grausam said he was not trying to create problems for furnace owners, and said he and his wife would participate financially in a program to replace the older, smokier furnaces with second-generation models that produce far less smoke and particulate matter. He suggested the city keep the moratorium in place until newer furnace models become more prevalent.

Greg Kraus - who said he owns a hydronic wood furnace - said the issue has become personal and that Grausam was "barking up the wrong tree."

Several other residents who burn wood in the boilers said they haven't heard any complaints.

Beranek said he walked in Grausam's neighborhood several times last spring and noticed heavy smoke in a block and a half area.

"Smoke was low to the ground, all over the neighborhood. It was more than most people should have to put up with," he added.

The ordinance will be read again at the Council's Dec. 16 meeting.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

December 2, 2008

SL Village bans outdoor wood boilers for one year

BY MARIE HAVENGA
mhavenga@grandhaventribune.com

SPRING LAKE — A one-year moratorium on outdoor wood-burning boilers in the village has been put in place in an attempt to provide time to study the pros and cons of the alternative heating devices.

The ban was approved by Village Council on Monday night.

"In essence, this (decision) is designed to place a one year hold (on these devices) so an investigation can take place," said Village President Bill Filber. "Some communities ban them and some don't."

The village has no current regulations in place on outdoor wood-burning boilers, according to Village Manager Ryan Cotton.

The issue came to light when Scott Keller, who moved an historic home from the southwest corner of Fruitport Road and Savidge Street to South Street in the village, proposed an outdoor boiler.

"There are no woodburners in use to our knowledge now," Cotton said, adding that Keller has discontinued plans for his outdoor boiler.

Filber said the goal is not to "police" outdoor heating systems, but rather to ensure safety for all residents.

"We're more interested to see that they're put in right, and to see that there are codes and guidelines in place," Filber said. "We just want to make sure the neighborhood is safe."

Councilman Ryan Kelly, who works for a local insurance agency, said outdoor boilers are known fire hazards.

"They've been one of the highest reasons for loss in the last year," said Kelly, adding that many insurance companies have a surcharge for residents who operate such a system. "They almost double the chance of a house fire."

Councilman Jeff Ferguson said smoke and odor are also concerns.

"The smell is a big concern because you can burn anything in them," Ferguson said.

Council plans to revisit the issue within the next year to discuss potential ordinance language.

Cotton said he has numerous sample ordinances from other communities for council to review.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

November 30, 2008

State leaves rule making to locals

 BY KATHY MELLOTT
The Tribune-Democrat

Despite laws regulating emissions for nearly everything from cars to weed eaters, in Pennsylvania local officials are on their own in dealing with the smoke from an increasing number of residential outdoor furnaces.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has no emissions laws on the books for the furnaces, but points instead to a voluntary program initiated with manufacturers to reduce the particulate matter coming out of the smoke stacks.

The state Department of Environmental Protection defines particulate matter as smaller particles that are likely to penetrate deeper into the respiratory system.

Advocates of the dollar-stretching outdoor wood and coal burners say the design, operation and emission issues have come a long way in the 20 or more years the furnaces have been around.

“They’re being built a lot better,” said David Nolan of Portage, who has been selling and installing the furnaces for a number of years.

“It’s about the ability of the furnaces to burn up more of the particulate matter and gases before they reach the smokestack,” said Robin Weaver, owner of Mahoning Wood Stoves in Mahaffey.

“We actually have a furnace we’re working on that will be more efficient. It will burn more of the particulate matter,” Weaver said. “We’re working with the EPA, but there is no federal standard. We want EPA to do something so everything is the same.”

But working with manufacturers has brought results more quickly than through regulation, said EPA spokesman Cathy Milbourne.

“It’s a voluntary program, that’s brought units to the market that are 90 percent cleaner in less than two years, faster than we would have accomplished with regulations,” Milbourne said.

Environmental watchdogs say the federal and state initiatives fall far short of a suitable solution.

“We’d like to see better safeguards for neighbors,” said Charles McPhedran, a lawyer with PennFuture, a statewide environmental group.

PennFuture wants DEP to help the municipalities with what it views as a new and growing source of air-quality problems.

The help is especially needed in those 21 counties which fail to meet fine particulate air quality standards.

Cambria County is one of the 21, McPhedran said.

DEP spokesman Charlie Young said the agency already is following the law by allowing regulation by local officials.

“Our state Pennsylvania Air Pollution Control limits DEP’s ability to regulate,” Young said.

DEP is developing a model ordinance geared at getting the smoke up and away from residential areas, requiring stacks be at least 15 feet high. The Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors also is on board with a sample ordinance applicable for local use.

The Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management applauds EPA and manufacturers’ efforts for clearer burning furnaces, but prefers clearer burning natural gas or fuel oil.

“In the space of about a year, (DEP has) managed to clean (the furnaces) up, but they’re still about 100 percent more polluting,” than other heat sources, NESCAUM Deputy Director Paul Miller said. “It’s more than a nuisance that these things put out.”

As local officials and agencies grapple with ways to minimize inconvenience and potential health issues for those living near the furnaces, the state is searching for ways to produce more of the fuel needed to keep them operating.

“One thing we’re looking at is how to develop fast-growing hardwoods on waste-coal lands,” Young said.

 Full Article: CLICK HERE

November 30, 2008

Area ordinances vary from regulations to outright bans

BY KATHY MELLOTT
The Tribune-Democrat

Homeowners interested in installing an outdoor furnace in Patton, Ebensburg or Windber should be prepared: Only those with plenty of land need apply.

It’s even more restrictive in Nanty Glo, Somerset Borough, Berlin and Salisbury, where outdoor furnaces are banned altogether.

Municipalities throughout Cambria and Somerset counties have adopted outdoor-furnace regulations or are considering them as the unstable price of fuel oil is sending people in search of alternative heating sources.

“If you have no close neighbors, it’s not a problem,” Patton Mayor Steve Bakajza Jr. said. “But our regulations are pretty tough. When houses are only 20 feet apart, you have to be considerate of your neighbors with the smoke.”

Municipalities in the region are working to eliminate or reduce the impact of the outdoor furnaces, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says can create wood smoke that is harmful to the elderly, pregnant women and others with certain medical conditions.

Ordinances vary widely: While a few prohibit the furnaces outright, many regulate how close the equipment can be to structures, flue height, smoke emissions and fuel, which must be natural wood, coal or another approved material.

Problems with a furnace in a residential area of another municipality sent Somerset Borough to the drawing board with a final ordinance imposing an all-out ban.

“It prohibits outdoor furnaces period,” Borough Manager Ben Vinzani said. “It’s not that you can have one if you have a certain amount of land. You can’t have them at all. Outdoor furnaces are banned totally in the borough.

“It came about after someone installed a furnace and presented a significant problem with air quality and quality-of-life issues.”

Salisbury Secretary Nancy Green said the half dozen or so outdoor furnaces existing in the borough were grandfathered in a year ago when a ban was imposed.

“I do know people are hurting because of the price of heating oil, but the whole town is a smog,” Green said.

A low cloud ceiling pushes smoke down, creating many of the problems, said Kerry Claycomb, Berlin Borough manager, where the furnaces also are prohibited.

“I think it was proactive on the part of our Borough Council when gas prices started to increase and people started to talk about supplemental heat,” he said.

Supervisor Buzzy Shook calls Cambria Township’s ordinance “property management,” especially when complaints came from the Colver and Beulah Road area.

“I think (the furnaces are) fine things if you live out and have a lot of property,” Shook said.

Somerset Township is in its third year of furnace regulations. Secretary-Treasurer Jack Biancotti said it’s working.

“(The furnaces) are probably a good idea,” he said. “They’re probably economical to use. But they can create a problem if it’s (used in) more of a residential area.”

So far, the ordinances appear to be legally solid, said Ebensburg lawyer C.J. Webb, who has developed a number of local furnace laws.

“I don’t know of any challenges around here, and I haven’t seen any successful challenges in the state. I think banning is always a much higher hurdle to get over” than limitations, Webb said.

David Nolan of Portage, who makes his living selling and installing outdoor furnaces, thinks local ordinances can be a good thing. He sat at the table as the Portage Township supervisors crafted a law set for adoption this month.

The regulations regarding smoke stacks vary the farther a furnace is from a structure. The regulation acknowledges that some parts of the township are sparsely populated.

“Portage has a very good ordinance,” Nolan said.

“If they really sit down and think about it, communities can come up with a good ordinance.”

Full Article: CLICK HERE

November 29, 2008

Burn ban orders will have new teeth

 

Wood-burning fireplaces will become a focus; fines will be $1,000.

The next time a ban on wintertime wood burning is declared in the Puget Sound region, it could be a ban in the truest sense of the word.

Until this year, winter burn bans have allowed for some exceptions: fires in newer, cleaner burning wood- or pellet stoves.

Now, even use of those stoves will be prohibited.

The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency sent out a reminder of the new law this week, with days of clear, cold, stagnant air -- the type that traps air pollution near the ground -- predicted for the weekend.

Earlier this year, the state Legislature lowered the air-quality trigger for calling a burn ban to align with a federal standard established in 2006, according to the Clean Air Agency.

Now bans will be divided into two stages:

Stage 1 bans will apply only to fires currently covered under wintertime burn bans. These include any type of outdoor burning along with fires in wood-burning fireplaces and pre-1995 wood stoves not certified to be cleaner burning.

Stage 2 bans will apply also to the newer, cleaner-burning devices.

The lone remaining exceptions are for fuels not made from wood: natural gas and propane stoves or inserts, along with common household heating sources such as furnaces, heat pumps and baseboard units.

Violations cost $1,000 each. An inspector for the Clean Air Agency has to see smoke coming out of the chimney to write a ticket, either by happening upon it or by responding to a complaint.

As with all wintertime burn bans, anyone who can show that their wood stove is their sole source of heat won't have to pay the fine. They can still be issued a ticket up front, though, and will have to file an appeal with the Clean Air Agency.

In the past, bans have been based on weather forecasts, and that will still be the case with stage 1 bans, said Jim Nolan, a compliance officer for the Clean Air Agency. Stagnant, smoke-filled cooler air can be trapped by warmer air above it, which keeps pollutants near the ground.

Stage 2 bans will be declared if the air quality starts pushing the federal health standard, Nolan said. The agency, which covers King, Snohomish, Pierce and Kitsap counties, usually calls a ban for the whole region but has the authority to specify by county if conditions warrant, a relatively rare occurrence, Nolan said.

The Clean Air Agency called two regional burn bans last winter, one from Dec. 9 through 11 and one from Jan. 23 through 26. Summer burn bans are usually declared by fire departments for safety reasons, officials with the Clean Air Agency said.

Despite a distinctive aroma that some find pleasant and comforting, wood smoke is dangerous to breathe, experts say. Tiny particles found in wood smoke -- so small that as many as 40 of them can fit across the diameter of a human hair -- can cause or worsen potentially fatal diseases of the heart and lungs, according to the Clean Air Agency.

"When the air does get contaminated, when the pollution load is heavy, we will see more pulmonary disease and heart disease," said Dr. Gary Goldbaum, director and health officer for the Snohomish Health District. "It is prudent to keep our air as clean as we possibly can."

Three years ago, the Clean Air Agency began offering rebates for homeowners in some communities to upgrade from older stoves to the newer, cleaner burning kind.

The rebates have been offered in several cities in the Puget Sound region, including Marysville and Darrington, where wood-smoke pollution was measured to be particularly high. This year the discounts are also offered in Everett.

Under the program, up to $750 is taken off the cost of a clean-burning wood stove and up to $1,500 off the cost of a pellet, propane or gas stove, or more efficient furnace or heat pump. Low-income discounts are available.

Discounts from other agencies, such as the Snohomish County PUD and Puget Sound Energy, for newer, more efficient appliances can be collected on top of the Clean Air Agency rebate for the same item, said Amy Warren, a spokeswoman for the Clean Air Agency.

Nearly 200 homeowners have taken advantage of the program in the three cities, with funding available for 24 more discounts in Marysville, 21 more in Everett and 18 in Darrington, Warren said.

Susie Green, 58, of Marysville, would escape the ban because she and her husband recently upgraded to a propane fireplace insert.

They took advantage of a rebate program from the Clean Air Agency and received $1,500 off the cost of the insert, bringing it down to $2,200 from $3,700.

They'd been thinking of upgrading anyway, Green said. The propane insert costs about the same as electric baseboard heat but keeps them much warmer, she said.

"We thought that was marvelous and too good an opportunity to pass up," Green said.

Reporter Bill Sheets: 425-339-3439 or sheets@heraldnet.com.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

November 29, 2008

Outdoor boiler moratorium considered in SL

SPRING LAKE — Village Council will consider a moratorium on outdoor wood-burning boilers when it meets at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Barber School, 102 W. Buchanan St.

"The point is to have the council consider whether to put a moratorium on them until we can talk about regulating distance from neighboring structures and lot lines," Village Manager Ryan Cotton said, adding that staff has received several complaints from neighbors about the smoke from the outdoor home-heating devices. "We have samples (ordinances) from other communities."

Full Article: CLICK HERE

November 26, 2008

Burning ordinance to be reviewed

By TERRY AHNER tahner@tnonline.com

A controversial ordinance that would prohibit outside burning in Palmerton will once again be revisited.

A motion by Borough Council to readvertise for the adoption of changes to the ordinance fell by the wayside on Tuesday after borough officials opted to again review the matter.

If approved, an addition to the ordinance states that "no person shall burn wood or any other fuel, except gas or charcoal in any outdoor grill, furnace, or other appliance, whether opened or closed. This ban shall include, but not be limited to, barbecue pits, chimineas and free-standing outdoor boilers. It does not include indoor furnaces, fireplaces, and coal or wood stoves installed to heat the buildings in which they are located."

However, the ordinance would not limit fuels in chimineas and manufactured fireplaces, according to borough Manager Rodger Danielson.

Last month council agreed to table changes to the ordinance after several residents complained about some of the proposed changes.

That decision came one month after council on a 5-2 vote in September agreed to advertise for the adoption of the ordinance.

Danielson previously said that while the borough hasn't been inundated with complaints of people burning outdoors, the matter has crept up from time to time.

The borough has reviewed several samples of similar ordinances from other municipalities, Danielson said.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

November 26, 2008

The price of oil and poor air quality (OWBs mentioned)

By Ned Rozell

Established by people like gold miners who had other things on their minds, many Alaska cities, towns, and villages are in places with hidden issues. Fairbanks, for example, is in a valley so windless that air parcels linger there for long periods of time. Add about 100,000 people and their emissions, and that box of air can get stagnant.

In early winter 2008, Fairbanks has had some of the worst air quality ever recorded, according to Jim Conner, an air quality specialist for the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

"We exceeded (federal air quality) standards in October this year for the first time," Conner said. "It looks like we'll have twice as many exceedances this year, about 50 (days)."

The bad air caused by tiny floating particles from burned fuels will lead to the Environmental Protection Agency in December to declare the borough as "out of attainment" of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards. This means that Alaskans will have three years to come up with a plan on how to solve Fairbanks' air problems, or the federal government will draw up a plan for Fairbanks.

Health officials are most concerned with pollutants in air smaller than 2.5 micrograms about the size of bacteria or 1/50th the width of a human hair. Those specks are small enough that they travel past your nose and trachea and deep into your lungs. Conner and his colleagues are now measuring Fairbanks air around the clock at certain places and are employing people to drive around with air sensors. They want to fingerprint the sources of fine particulates in Fairbanks.

Though results from the borough studies aren't all in yet, Conner said he suspects that the high price of oil last spring and summer have driven more people to burn wood and coal. People have fired up old wood stoves that aren't as clean-burning as new ones, and many people invested in outdoor wood and coal boilers, which tend to smolder rather than burn hot and clean, and have smoke stacks that extend not much higher than a person is tall.

"We've been seeing these things one-quarter mile away with our instruments," Conner said of the boilers. "We estimated about 1,500 of these were sold this summer, so that's a lot of half-mile zones affected in Fairbanks.

"These boilers were designed for rural use, to be put 500 feet away from the nearest structure, but people are putting them on one-quarter acre lots," Conner said.

Oil furnaces, cars, and emissions from coal-fired power plants are other parts of the Fairbanks air-quality equation that borough employees are trying to solve, along with people from the city government, the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the University of Alaska Fairbanks and its Cold Climate Housing Research Center, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Possible solutions with the wood-and-coal burning issue are new laws prohibiting burning on certain days (sometimes enforced in Juneau's Mendenhall Valley, which has similar-though-less-extreme atmospheric conditions in winter) and finding a way to tidy up existing systems. Conner said he realizes that people have invested thousands of dollars into new boiler systems, and aren't likely to abandon them.

"Speaking for the borough, we don't want to stop everybody from using this equipment, but we want to try to make it as clean as possible," Conner said.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

November 26, 2008

Upper Mount Bethel Township may regulate outdoor wood-fired boilers

Wednesday, November 26, 2008
By DOUGLAS B. BRILL
The Express-Times
 

U. MT. BETHEL TWP. | Township supervisors want to regulate outdoor wood-fired boilers and plan to review a law for the water heaters next month.

The township attorney is to prepare legislation for review at the supervisors' next meeting, Dec. 8.

At least 12 township residents use the boilers, which are home-heating alternatives that have drawn complaints about the smoke they generate.

The boilers are small sheds with a chimney. Inside is a firebox that heats water that is piped to a home. They aren't regulated at the state or federal levels.

Washington Township, Pa., regulated the boilers in June 2007, while Plainfield Township legalized them in May 2008.

Those townships' laws ban the boilers during warm months, require permits and limit where the boilers can be placed.

The Upper Mount Bethel Township Planning Commission suggested having boilers only on big properties, but the environmental advisory council felt they should only be set distances from neighbors.

Supervisors said the commission's suggestion that chimneys be 3 feet taller than the closest roof could be problematic. Supervisors planned to require permits and inspections.

Other communities addressing outdoor wood-burning furnace regulations include Bushkill Township in Northampton County, and Washington and Greenwich townships in Warren County.

Reporter Douglas B. Brill can be reached at 610-258-7171 or by e-mail at dbrill@express-times.com.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

November 22, 2008

N. Londonderry eyes outdoor-boiler code

PALMYRA — The North Londonderry supervisors last week passed a resolution for sanitary sewer and utilities easements for the Arbor Greene development.

In addition, the board instructed the township solicitor to prepare an outdoor wood boiler ordinance for advertisement. This ordinance will permit the use of wood boilers as long as the property on which they sit is at least 2 acres. Furnaces currently in use will be grandfathered and permitted regardless of property size.

By: Barbara West

Full Article: CLICK HERE

November 21, 2008

Fair Haven may limit furnaces, windmills

By Kathleen Barran

Friday, November 21, 2008 11:55 PM EST

The village is also looking into a separate local law regarding outdoor furnaces. The village board is not prohibiting these furnaces, but homeowners with outdoor furnaces will be required to obtain permits that can be suspended if emissions create a certain amount of smog; if bad smells are noticeable outside the owner's property; if emissions interfere with reasonable enjoyment of life or property, cause damage to vegetation or property, or are harmful to health.

The board enacted Local Law No. 4 to address concerns regarding safety and environmental health effects of uncontrolled emissions from outdoor furnaces. Certain areas of the village are not suited to outdoor furnaces.

The law reads: “No person shall cause, allow or maintain the use of an outdoor furnace within the Village of Fair Haven without first obtaining site plan approval from the Village and a permit from the Village of Fair Haven Code Enforcement Officer. Existing outdoor furnaces are subject to all regulations established by the new law.” Violations can result in a $500 fine for a first offense and up to $1,000 for multiple offenses, with imprisonment for 15 to 30 days or both.

Only coal, firewood and untreated lumber are allowed to be burned, and the furnace has to have a spark arrestor.

Furnaces must be set back at least 50 feet from any property line, and they must be positioned to have the least effect from stack emissions on the fewest number of residences down wind. No lighter fluids, gasoline or chemicals are allowed to start the furnace.

The manufacturer's minimum stack height must be followed. Stacks located more than 50 feet but not more than 150 feet from any residence not served by the furnace must be at least 75 percent plus five feet of the eve line of that residence. In those more than 150 feet but less than 300 feet from any residence not served by the furnace, the stack must be at least 50 percent plus five feet of the height of the eve line.

McVey said outdoor furnaces are different from interior wood stoves because of the height of the stack, which is often 8 or 10 feet.

“A wood stove chimney is above the roof line, but a low furnace stack blows in your neighbor's window,” he said. He noted that outdoor furnaces are often used year-round for domestic hot water.

Those with outdoor furnace permits agree to allow the code enforcement officer to inspect the furnace if a written complaint is filed.

“We don't want to prohibit things, but reasonable controls are needed in a village where everyone is living in proximity,” McVey said.

Both windmill and furnace laws will be filed with the state once the windmill law is passed.

Staff writer Kathleen Barran can be reached at 253-5311 ext. 238 or kathleen.barran@lee.net

Full Article: CLICK HERE

November 20, 2008

No tax increase in Sykesville budget (OWBs mentioned)

Also discussed during the meeting was the outdoor furnace ordinance the council is still composing.
While Solicitor Mike Bogash provided the council with a basic outline of what an outdoor furnace ordinance could look like, the council must decide distances pertaining to stack height and setbacks.
Several members of the council agree to having the ordinance lay out the specifications for an outdoor furnace, but also having a permitting process involved before a furnace is installed.
"As far as the height, I think we're fine with the 20 feet (for the stack height), especially in town," Councilman Rick Canton said.
In discussing the possible setbacks and heights, Mayor Rick Fike referenced a "trouble furnace" which smoked out a neighborhood in Punxsutawney. He said once the furnace was in compliance, it had a stack which was five-feet above the roof of a two-story home.
"It is the height that a normal chimney would be out of a house," Fike said. "If that is what they want-fine-but I think it looks horrible."
Councilman Dave Reiter said perhaps the council should consider a time period during which furnaces can be used to prevent continuous burning throughout the year, particularly the summer months. To explain his point, he said some people use the furnace during the winter to heat their homes, while others also burn often during the summer to heat their swimming pools or for other uses.
Bogash reiterated the ordinance limits what can be burned in furnaces, including all natural wood products, coal and number 2 heating oil.
Two council members were particularly supportive of this definition within the ordinance because they knew of situations where people burned dirty diapers in their furnaces.
Bogash said some municipalities also require residents with outdoor furnaces to require a spark arrester. He said he didn't know much about this and it is for the council to decide.
No decisions were made regarding the ordinance. It will go to the ordinance committee for review.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

November 20, 2008

Woodsmoke emissions being monitored in region by NESCAUM

HEATHER SACKETT, News Staff Writer

LAKE PLACID — Officials from the Boston-based Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM) and local volunteers are working together to monitor how emissions from woodsmoke are distributed throughout the region.

“It’s not so much a monitoring project as it is a mapping project,” said NESCAUM Deputy Director Paul Miller. “Upstate New York is our pilot case.”

NESCAUM is a nonprofit organization of air quality agencies in the Northeast. In addition to a testing site in the town of Keene, there will be volunteers monitoring the air this winter at locations in Ticonderoga, Port Henry and at other places in Essex, Hamilton and Warren counties.

The results of the study, which is being funded through the New York State Energy and Research Development Agency (NYSERDA) will be used, in part, to develop more energy-efficient ways of burning wood.

“With high oil prices, people are looking to heat with wood,” said Ellen Burkhard, a project manager with NYSERDA. “Wood is a renewable resource, but even if something is renewable, we want to maximize energy efficiency.”

An optical device will be used for measuring woodsmoke in the air because, Miller said, the carbon component of the smoke absorbs some types of light more than others. It does not pick up emissions from cars or other sources of air pollution. The device, Miller said is about the size of the proverbial breadbox and is not much trouble to the volunteers.

“It’s largely a hands-off kind of thing,” he said. “They just need to give us a warm place to put it and make sure the lights are blinking like they are supposed to.”

Miller said NESCAUM is looking to site six fixed monitors, in addition to mobile monitors on cars that will drive around the region a total of 10 times on cold, clear nights to monitor the smoke emissions in between the fixed points.

Miller said the Adirondacks were chosen as part of this test study because of the extreme topography associated with the mountains and valleys. Earlier this year, NESCAUM looked at census data that indicated a building’s method of heating and generated a map of projected wood smoke emissions to determine where it should monitor.

“We want a hard test in an area in which the altitude changes are pretty robust,” he said. “We are looking for a lot of variations to see how well the mapping techniques work. If we can show (the mapping) works in a place that is relatively difficult, we hope it can be applied throughout the Northeast.”

If the tests, which will run through the end of March, work as planned, Miller hopes the technique can be used as a screening tool for public health organizations and local municipalities to identify areas that have high concentrations of wood smoke. The mapping system won’t, Miller said, necessarily identify the source of the wood smoke emissions.

But with so much local interest recently in outdoor wood boilers, this study may provide valuable information to local municipalities about smoke emissions. According to Burkhard, outdoor wood boilers have a 40 percent efficiency rate.

“In looking at all the renewables, we look at them in comparison to a modern fossil (oil combustion) unit,” Burkhard said. “We are hoping it will come down to the (efficiency) range of an oil fire. We want these renewable energies to be over 85 percent efficient, and we can do it.”

Full Article: CLICK HERE

November 20, 2008

W’ton board votes yes to wood boiler regulations

HEATHER SACKETT, News Staff Writer

WILMINGTON — After a second public hearing, which at times grew heated, the Wilmington town board voted 4 to 1 Tuesday night to enact a local law regulating the use of outdoor wood boilers. Councilman Darin Forbes cast the lone vote against the local law. Board members Rarilee Conway, Stephen Corvelli, Dawn Stevens and Supervisor Randy Preston voted in favor.

The new law enacts more stringent regulations for the devices than the previous law that was proposed at the Oct. 14 meeting. Under the new law, if an OWB is located within 200 to 500 feet of a residence not served by it, it must have a furnace stack higher than the peak of that residence, not to exceed 35 feet. The previous proposed regulation was within 100 to 300 feet of another residence.

The setback requirement from another residence was also increased from 100 to 200 feet. Outdoor wood boiler use is limited to the months between September 1 and May 31. Those residents with existing wood boilers have one year to bring their devices into compliance with the law.

A first violation of the law could result in a fine of up to $500 and 10 days in jail. A second offense could result in a fine of up to $1,000 and 30 days in jail, in addition to having a permit for the OWB revoked. A second offender would not be eligible for another permit.

Regulation of the devices, which have been touted as an alternative means of providing heat at a time when the price of oil is climbing, has been a contentious issue at recent Wilmington town board meetings. After listening to remarks from 12 people at its Oct. 14 public hearing, all of whom spoke against the regulations as drafted, the town board decided to table the issue until its November meeting.

About 25 people packed the town hall for the second public hearing Tuesday, where about seven people spoke out against the regulations.

Wilmington residents Scott Avery and Nancy LeBlanc were among those who spoke against the law. They submitted a memorandum to the board members in which they called prohibiting the use of OWBs during the summer months “arbitrary.”

“I do not have any alternative to domestic hot water,” Avery said. “I can’t do without a fire in June. It’s cold here in the Adirondacks.”

He urged board members to “please go back to the drawing board.”

But outdoor wood boilers have also been criticized for contributing to poor air quality and causing health problems, especially when used incorrectly. Supervisor Randy Preston called the wood smoke from OWBs “lethal.”

“If you have a wood boiler, you’re not happy about this. We know that.” he said.

Several local municipalities, including the town of Jay and village of Saranac Lake, are grappling with setting regulations. In September, Jay enacted a five-month moratorium on wood boiler permits. The town of Chesterfield has had regulations in place since May 2007.

Wilmington’s regulations will take effect as soon as the law is filed with the New York Secretary of State.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

November 20, 2008

Burn wood, not lungs

November 20, 2008

THROUGHOUT New England, wood can be an affordable alternative to heating oil, natural gas, and electricity. The trick is to make sure that wood-burning units emit as little harmful fine-particle pollution as possible. While indoor stoves have had to meet federal Environmental Protection Agency standards since 1992, many outdoor wood boilers flunk that test. The result can be noxious emissions that are hard on the nose, the lungs, and the heart.

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection is at work on regulations that would set criteria for thermal efficiency in outdoor wood boilers and thus emissions, best operating practices, setbacks, and minimum smokestack heights. Such rules are needed, as more people use outdoor boilers to heat homes, garages, barns, pools, and hot tubs.

To make the biggest impact on the boilers' pollution, new rules should provide for modifying existing units. Many older units cut down on wood consumption by limiting air intake. When wood smolders instead of burning at a high heat, it emits a large amount of uncombusted pollutants. In 2007, the EPA recognized the growing popularity - and problems - of the outdoor boilers and got 20 manufacturers representing more than 85 percent of the market to commit to voluntary improvements in new units. In the first phase, the units burn 70 percent cleaner than before and in the second phase 90 percent.

But outdoor boilers already in use can produce significant pollution. New rules on boilers won't solve every problem; some people use them improperly, burning trash and painted boards. Still, the state should do what it can to make sure that, at least when families burn well-seasoned firewood, their neighbors and the environment don't suffer.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

November 19, 2008

NORTH TONAWANDA: Public input requested on Master Plan (OWBs mentioned)

By Neale Gulley
The Tonawanda News

The council resolved to grant a request by Building Inspector Cosimo Capozzi asking that residents be barred from installing outdoor wood-fired boilers until city code can be updated to include regulations specific to their operation.

A memo sent on behalf of Capozzi by Assistant City Attorney Bob Sondel said concerns exist about dense smoke possibly causing either nuisance or health concerns.

The outdoor fire boxes have enjoyed popularity recently in the face of rising fuel costs associated with home heating.

Contact reporter Neale Gulley at 693-1000, ext. 114.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

November 19, 2008

Outdoor furnaces create health hazard, says suit

Pierce County Herald
Published Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A rural Pierce County couple has filed a lawsuit against neighbors, claiming their wood-burning furnaces are polluting the neighborhood.

Andrea and Michael Wieland, N7637 330th St., Spring Valley, filed suit in Pierce County Court against Marlowe and Carol Anderson, N7590 330th St., Spring Valley, and Tom Tessier, N7500 330th St., Spring Valley.

The Wielands bought their home in May 1989. The suit says the house “is situated in a rural area, and they purchased it to enjoy the outdoors at their property and to use their property for agricultural production of nursery plants and hardwood timber.”

According to the complaint, the Andersons installed and started using an outdoor boiler at their home in September 2005. Tessier installed and began operating his outdoor wood burner in September 2006.

The wood-fired furnaces are housed in small insulated sheds apart from the houses. The sheds hold fireboxes for large loads of wood. Each firebox is surrounded by a water jacket that is heated, the water cycles through the jacket and delivers hot water to the house.

The suit alleges the two boilers are causing “smoke and particle pollution to cross onto (the Wielands’) property.”

The Wielands say they can’t keep their windows open and they sometimes have to wear respirators to help them breathe, making physical work difficult.

“Because operating their nursery and maintaining their woodlands requires (the Wielands) to be outside, staying inside when the smoke is heavy is not an option,” according to the complaint.

According to the suit, Andrea has suffered and continues to suffer lung damage from the pollution, and the furnaces provide an on-going risk.

The complaint says the Department of Health and Family Services and the Pierce County Health Department have monitored the air quality in the neighborhood and it exceeds standards.

The suit alleges trespass, negligence and nuisance, saying the pollution is an invasion of the Wielands’ property and interferes with use of the property. The complaint also alleges the Andersons and Tessier should have known that the pollution would cross to the Wielands’ property.

The suit asks for a permanent injunction stopping the defendants from using their furnaces; for compensatory damages for the loss of the value of their land, annoyance, inconvenience, discomfort, injury and future medical monitoring; and for punitive damages.

Full Article: CLICK HERE


November 19, 2008

4-month moratorium placed on wood-fired boilers

NORTH TONAWANDA — The city is receiving signs of financially troubled times in the form of smoke signals.

Some residents have complained about “dense smoke” coming from outdoor, wood-fired boilers that people have installed to heat their homes, the Common Council was told Tuesday. Some people have converted their furnaces to burn wood instead of oil or gas.

The Council imposed a four-month moratorium on any further installation “until reasonable regulations” can be adopted into the City Code.

No one knows how many wood furnaces are currently in use, but enough to prompt Robert Sondel, assistant city attorney, to write a letter to the Council asking for the moratorium.

Sondel was relaying concerns from Building Inspector Cosimo Capozzi on nuisance and health problems arising from the smoke.

“These boilers are usually equipped with very short stacks, which causes the smoke from them to disperse very poorly,” Sondel said.

Mayor Lawrence V. Soos said he is not opposed to the money-saving method of heating one’s home, as long as the wood-fired boilers are safe.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

November 18, 2008

Canton Council approves list of restrictions on wood furnaces
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
By ED BALINT

CANTON City Council approved restrictions on outdoor wood-burning furnaces Monday night, essentially banning the appliances.

Council passed the measure by a 9-3 vote. Council members Mary Cirelli, D-at large, Joe Carbenia, D-9, and Greg Hawk, D-1, voted against the legislation, which limits outdoor wood-burning appliances to residential properties of one acre and greater. Units also must be at least 200 feet from other structures.

Other restrictions include a minimum smokestack height on the outdoor furnace — 5 feet above the peak of any structure within a 200-foot radius of the appliance — and a list of what can and cannot be burned.

The city law will not preclude residents who already own and operate an outdoor furnace from continued use, said Law Director Joseph Martuccio. However, those residents must follow the restrictions, including operating the equipment only from Nov. 1 through April 15, he said.

Councilman Jim Griffin, D-3, introduced the ordinance after receiving complaints about a house at 336 Arlington Avenue NW regarding smoke and odor generated by an outdoor furnace.

"We just don't have the lots big enough in this city," Griffin said of the appliances.

Restrictions on outdoor furnaces already exist in Jackson Township and Perry Township and other parts of the county.

STACK HEIGHT

Ken Engel, who owns the outdoor wood-burning appliance on Arlington Avenue, said the smoke and smell are no greater than that of an indoor fireplace or bonfires in the neighborhood.

Engel says he gets wood for free and saves money on heating his home. Although Engel still will be allowed to use the wood-fired boiler, he said the smokestack restriction will make the appliance inoperable and create more smoke.

After Monday night's meeting, John Labriola, the city's chief building official, said he talked with Engel and plans to work with him to ensure he's in compliance with the new law. Labriola said he's aware of only a few outdoor furnaces in the city. He said he's received one or two complaints about Engel's appliance.

The longer the smokestack, the less efficient the outdoor furnace, Labriola said. Equipment can be purchased that is designed to increase the efficiency and reduce the amount of smoke, Labriola said.

Higher stacks are being required so smoke does not blow directly toward neighboring houses, Labriola said.

Engel said his outdoor wood-burner is efficient; he also said he follows the owner's manual. Labriola said Engel is already knowledgeable on what types of wood and fuels are permissible to burn.

'TOO RESTRICTIVE'

Tim Singo, of Perry Township, spoke in support of the restrictions. Singo said he lives next to a home with an outdoor furnace, which "can smoke out" neighbors, and he believes it's to blame for a chronically sore throat he's suffered. Singo also said the wood-fired boilers can be problematic for people with asthma.

"When you get one in your backyard, you'll care," Singo said.

Councilman Bill Smuckler, D-at large, said he supported the restrictions because city neighborhoods are so densely populated. Inner-city Canton neighborhoods average five to seven homes per acre, Labriola said. Few one-acre residential properties exist in the city, he said.

Hawk opposed the legislation. "I believe these regulations are too restrictive and needed more work," he said after Monday's meeting.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

November 18, 2008

Saving fuel, spreading misery

Popular wood-fired boilers spur pollution concerns

By Brian MacQuarrie Globe Staff / November 18, 2008

FOSTER, R.I. - The bane of Steve Charette's once-bucolic existence is partly hidden behind a roadside stand of trees across the street from his house. It's little more than the size of a shed, topped by a short smokestack with a stubby nose in this uncrowded corner of rural Rhode Island.

The shed contains a wood-fired boiler, a home-heating device that is rapidly gaining popularity in an era of roller-coaster oil prices. But instead of admiring a quaint symbol of alternate energy, Charette is fuming over a byproduct that he said has sickened his 2-year-old twins, given his wife a pounding headache, and fouled his neighborhood.

The boiler's smoldering wood, Charette said, has spewed noxious smoke that seeps into his house through windows, cracks, and crevices.

"It's a disgusting, terrible, horrible smell," Charette said. "We go inside, and the smoke detector is going off. Our clothes get smoked out. And the boys can't play outside anymore, so we moved their swings into the basement."

Charette's concerns are echoed by a growing number of state and municipal officials in New England, who often lack the authority or staffing to crack down on boiler pollution as homeowners increasingly turn to wood for heat. So far, 35 communities in Massachusetts have passed restrictions on the devices.

In Rhode Island, only the town of North Smithfield has enacted regulations.

"There are real and serious health impacts at the neighborhood-to-neighborhood level," said Paul Miller, deputy director of Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, a nonprofit group that represents regional air-quality agencies. "We didn't know three years ago that something essentially the size of a large telephone booth would be in someone's backyard and smoke out their neighbors."

Much less efficient than wood stoves, the devices are designed to burn wood slowly, heating water in a sleeve around the firebox, then piping it into a house for uses ranging from heat and hot water to swimming pools and hot tubs.

Critics say the devices are particularly noxious because they restrict air flow in order to slow combustion. While that allows wood to burn longer, it also builds up large amounts of soot and creosote, which are periodically released in billowing plumes that air quality officials say are potential health hazards.

Critics also say that smoke pollution increases when green wood is used instead of properly aged fuel, and when owners toss yard waste, trash, and even tires into the furnaces. In certain weather conditions, the smoke can cling close to the ground and envelop a house like a thick shroud.

According to a 2006 report from the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, the average emission from one wood-fired boiler was equal to 22 federally certified wood stoves, 205 oil furnaces, or as many as four heavy diesel trucks. More than 1,300 boilers had been installed in Massachusetts by 2006, according to the group's estimate, and about 156,000 existed nationwide.

NESCAUM, the regional association, estimated that 500,000 boilers would be scattered across the country by 2010. The US Environmental Protection Agency has recommended only voluntary guidelines for boiler manufacturers, leaving the responsibility for regulation with local and state officials who often are not aware of new furnaces until someone complains.

"At a minimum, that smoke can be very irritating," said Mark Smith, deputy director of the Office of Research and Standards at the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. "People who have preexisting health conditions like asthma or emphysema or heart conditions might be particularly susceptible to smoke from these units."

The agency is finalizing statewide regulations, including criteria for best operating practices, setback guidelines, thermal efficiency, and minimum smokestack height, that Massachusetts hopes to have in place by winter, said Ed Coletta, the department spokesman.

Manufacturers extol the advantages of the devices. On its website, Central Boiler of Greenbush, Minn., described its Classic Outdoor Wood Furnace as superior to an indoor wood stove.

The furnace, Central Boiler said, can heat "multiple buildings, hot tubs, pools, greenhouses, domestic water, and more" and "improve the indoor environment in your home or business, while eliminating the time-consuming chore of tending a traditional wood stove."

Charlie Hurd, who runs a dairy farm in Scotland, Conn., said the boiler he uses to heat his barn helps keep him in business. Hurd gets much of his wood from the fields, so his savings are consistent and significant.

"We used to spend $100 a week to heat water in the barn, and we're not spending anywhere near that now," Hurd said. "I love it. I think in their place they're very good."

Hurd, whose nearest neighbor is a quarter-mile away, considers boilers impractical in more congested areas.

By Miller's estimate, the boilers also are much less cost-effective than they might appear to owners who buy and install the smallest units for $8,000 to $10,000.

For a typical Massachusetts household, the escalating price of cordwood means a boiler would cost $4,200 per year, Miller estimated, compared with $2,300 for 800 gallons of heating oil.

In Foster, Town Planner Ann-Marie Ignasher argued that her community, where 4,500 residents are spread out over 52 square miles and the minimum lot size is 4.6 acres, is different from North Smithfield, a more suburban town where the first-in-the-state regulations were approved in October.

"This is Foster. This is rural. We burn wood out here," Ignasher said. "The people who have been born and raised here are very much used to it. Those who have just moved in are not that used to it."

Charette, who moved to town four years ago for peace and solitude, said his children have been coughing and waking up crying since the furnace began operating about two months ago.

Ignasher said Foster is studying North Smithfield's ordinance, but that the town has not issued a moratorium on new boilers while it considers regulations, as North Smithfield did during its review.

"As I said, it's a way of life out here," Ignasher said.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

November 18, 2008

North Londonderry will regulate outdoor wood boilers

by BARBARA MILLER, Of The Patriot-News
Tuesday November 18, 2008, 2:40 PM
PALMYRA -- Supervisors in North Londonderry Township plan to vote on a law requiring at least two-acre lots for outdoor wood boilers, but existing boilers on smaller lots would be allowed stay.

The township has received no complaints regarding the devices, even though there are two outdoor wood boilers in use, one of which has been in place for years, said Gordon Watts, township manager.

 

But the township has received inquiries from people considering installing outdoor wood boilers and want to know the local regulations, Watts said.

The planning commission recommended that two-acre lots be required for the devices, which heat water in a wood-burning shed and pipe it underground into homes for heating and hot water.

The law states that only fuels approved by the boiler manufacturer may be burned and that a 15-foot chimney is required.

Watts said he isn't sure whether more people will purchase them, as the costs range from $8,000 to $12,000. "It's a pretty significant investment for a heating system that takes a lot of maintenance and work associated with it," he said.

The law must be advertised before final adoption, which could occur Dec. 15.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

November 16, 2008

Outdoor wood burners raise a stink
Sunday, November 16, 2008
BY ED BALINT

CANTON Legislation that would severely restrict, essentially banning, outdoor wood-burning appliances is expected to get a vote at Monday night's City Council meeting.

Councilman James Griffin, D-3, introduced the legislation in an effort to help deal with what he considers a neighborhood nuisance — smoke coming from an outdoor wood-burning appliance at 336 Arlington Ave. NW.

Griffin said he also wants to prevent more of the outdoor furnaces from cropping up throughout the city. Such appliances now are used at two or three Canton homes, according to city officials. The appliances also are known as wood-fired boilers and hydronic heaters. Typically, the units burn wood to heat water that is piped to provide heat and sometimes hot water.

Apparently the only one to generate formal complaints is at the Arlington Avenue home of Kenneth Engel.

Councilman Greg Hawk, D-1, opposes the ordinance because he says it amounts to a ban of wood-fired boilers. The proposed law would restrict the units to residential properties of one-acre or greater and require the appliances to be at least 200 feet from other structures.

"I will vote no on it as it stands," Hawk said Friday. "While I support the regulation of outdoor wood-burning appliances, this constitutes an out-and-out ban. I think what we need to do is to go back and review this and determine what would be best for the city of Canton."

Griffin said Thursday he did not expect the legislation to be modified before a vote.

No one-acre residential properties exist in city neighborhoods, said Councilman Bill Smuckler, D-at large. A limited number of such lots exist on city boundaries, including in the Plain Township area, he said.

OPPOSING VIEWPOINTS

Since Engel gets wood for free, he says the outdoor wood-burning appliance saves money on heating his home.

Some neighbors, however, have complained the smoke creates a nuisance. James Cleavenger, who lives on Fourth Street NW near Raymont Court, said heavy smoke affected the breathing of his infant niece last year.

"I had to take her to the hospital," he said. "We had to give her breathing treatments and everything. My whole house was filled with smoke.

"It chokes the crap out of you," said Cleavenger, who has rented his home for about three years. "I'd be happy if they just made some regulations (and) that I'm not smelling the crap."

Engel says his wood-fired boiler is efficient, and he follows the owner's manual. He says the smoke is no more of a nuisance than that created by indoor fireplaces or bonfires in the neighborhood.

"It's so much more comfortable," Engel said of the heat produced. "The difference in the heat is remarkable, really. It's a comfortable heat."

However, Griffin and John Labriola, chief building official, say the odor of the smoke was strong when they visited Engel's neighborhood last winter. Indoor fireplaces typically operate intermittently, said James Adams, the city's health commissioner, while outdoor wood-burning furnaces operate more continuously during the winter.

Emissions can exacerbate a person's asthma and existing breathing problems, Adams said. The units are more of an issue in townships, he said.

MINIMUM STACK HEIGHT

If approved by council, the legislation would not force Engel to stop using the appliance, said Law Director Joseph Martuccio. Since Engel's wood-burner already is in use, he would not have to comply with the one-acre or the 200-feet requirements.

However, Engel would have to follow other regulations, including the stack height, Martuccio said. Months of operation — Nov. 1 through April 15 — also would apply to Engel or any other city resident who currently uses an outdoor wood-burning appliance.

Under the proposed ordinance, only seasoned untreated hardwood, corncobs and wood chips can be burned in the wood-fired boiler, or other fuels burned in compliance with the manufacturer's specifications and the Ohio Administrative Code.

Engel doesn't object to following the regulations.

JACKSON TWP. REGULATIONS

Outdoor wood-fired boilers have gotten the attention of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, which proposed draft rules earlier this year. No state regulations exist for wood-fired boilers, said Linda Oros, an Ohio EPA spokeswoman.

"We got some various opinions from both sides, but primarily we heard from people who were opposed to the restrictions," including people who use outdoor furnaces, she said.

Draft rules are being revised, Oros said. After the new draft is finished, public comments will be taken and a public hearing will follow.

Setting limits on outdoor furnaces has been an issue in other parts of the state and country. In 2007, Jackson Township set restrictions on outdoor wood-burning furnaces, limiting the equipment to rural residential areas on lots five acres or greater.

In Jackson, outdoor furnaces must be located in the rear yard, and the minimum stack height is 20 feet from the ground at the unit's base. Setback requirements are at least 200 feet from all property lines, and fuels are limited to seasoned hardwood, corncobs and wood chips. Stark County Building Department and Ohio EPA Air Pollution Control Division regulations also must be followed. Another requirement is fire department approval of the furnace location.

'REASONABLE LEGISLATION'

Adams, Canton's health commissioner, said outdoor wood-burning furnaces tend to produce more pollutants than indoor wood-burning stoves and fireplaces. He cited research conducted by the U.S. EPA. However, the amount of smoke depends on the unit's efficiency and whether it follows U.S. EPA recommendations. The voluntary federal program encourages manufacturers to produce and sell cleaner, more efficient hydronic heaters.

"From a public health standpoint, I think it's a pretty reasonable piece of legislation," Adams said of Canton's proposed restrictions, "given the state of the technology of these heaters (and) where they're at now, and the placement of these in a dense urban environment."

"In my view, what council is trying to do is try to prevent problems from cropping up in the future."

OUTDOOR WOOD-BURNING APPLIANCES

Canton City Council may vote Monday night on setting restrictions on outdoor wood-fired boilers in the city. Under the proposed ordinance, restrictions include:

• An operator of the unit must have the proper building and zoning permits.

• Outdoor wood-burning furnaces would be limited to a minimum residential lot size of one acre in an R-1 district.

• The unit must be placed at least 100 feet from any side or rear property line.

• The unit must be at least 200 feet from any structures not served by the appliance and at least 10 feet from any structures served by the appliance.

• The unit must be placed in the rear of the yard.

• The flue or chimney (or smoke stack) must extend a minimum of five feet above the peak of any structure located within a 200-foot radius of the outdoor wood-burning appliance.

• The unit can only be operated between Nov. 1 through April 15.

• All units must be listed by an approved agency and installed and operated according to the manufacturer's specifications.

• Fuels and materials that cannot be burned in the wood-burning appliance include garbage, treated or painted wood, coal, tires, plastic, rubber products, yard waste, lawn clippings, papers, construction and demolition debris, manure, animal carcasses, chemicals and any substance that normally emits dense smoke or noxious odors.

PUBLIC MEETING

Canton City Council meets at 7:30 p.m. Monday in the Council Chamber on the first floor of City Hall at 218 Cleveland Ave. SW in downtown Canton.

Agenda items include proposed restrictions on outdoor wood-burning appliances. Council is expected to vote on the legislation.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

November 16, 2008

City Council: Stoves again on agenda

Bethany Wesley Bemidji Pioneer
Published Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Bemidji City Council is set to continue the public hearing on the proposed wood-burning stove ordinance.

The hearing will be held during the council’s regular meeting at 7 p.m. Monday in the council chambers at City Hall.

The council has considered this fall new rules that govern the use of outdoor wood-burning stoves and furnaces.

During the initial public hearing, suggestions were made for revisions by users and the businesses that sell stoves and furnaces.

The newly revised ordinance sets regulations according to existing Environmental Protection Agency standards.

In order for the ordinance to be effected, the council will have to hold a third reading and then approve it. The ordinance would then take effect 30 days after publication.

The owner of the stove will have to first obtain a permit from the Bemidji fire chief before operation is allowed.

Stoves will not be able to create any dense smoke, noxious fumes, gas, soot or cinders.

The chimney stack must be at least 15 feet above ground, unless the fire chief approves a lesser height.

The stoves will not be allowed to burn any wood that has been painted, varnished or coated with a similar material. No garbage, newspaper or cardboard may be burned.

Setback requirements vary based on the EPA guidelines. At most, a stove would be required to 50 feet from property lines and 100 feet from residences not served by the stove.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

November 14, 2008

Health board to hold public hearing on outdoor wood burning units
Regs would restrict location of wood-fired furnaces

 
Richard Moore
Investigative Reporter

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Oneida County Board of Health will hold a hearing next week to take public input on the proposed regulation of outdoor wood-fired furnaces.

The hearing will take place Monday, Nov. 17, at 5 p.m. in the second-floor boardroom of the Oneida County Courthouse in Rhinelander.

The board of health had already advanced the proposed regulations to the county board for approval, but supervisors thought the matter was of sufficient magnitude to order a public hearing.

The draft code would allow outdoor woodburning units/outdoor furnaces with an approved permit from the zoning department; the units would have to meet emission standards required by the Environmental Protection Agency and by the Outdoor Furnace Manufacturer's Caucus of the Hearth, Patio and Barbeque Association.

Specifically, the draft states, regulated units would include any accessory structure or appliance designed for use outside the principal structure to heat any principal or accessory structure on the premise through the transfer of heat via liquid or other means, by burning wood or other solid fuels.

Only natural untreated wood could be burned in the units. Lawfully operated fire pits, open burning, barbecues, fryers, grills and chimneys would not be regulated under the ordinance.

Outdoor wood-fired furnaces would have to be placed no less than 200 feet from any residence not served by the furnace. For existing units within that 200-foot boundary, the stack would have to be at least two feet higher than the peak of adjacent properties.

For units located between 200 and 500 feet of any residence not served by the furnace, the stack height would have to reach at least to the peak of adjacent properties.

Under the ordinance, the planning and zoning committee could approve a lesser stack height on a case-by-case basis if no hazard is posed to neighbors and the board of health recommends the lesser height.

A one-time permit for new units would be required under the ordinance. Owners of existing furnaces would have one year to obtain the needed permit for each unit, provided the stack height met the ordinance's requirements.

 

Why the regulation is needed

The ordinance has been drafted, Oneida County Health Department director Linda Conlon said this past summer, because outdoor wood-fired furnaces can pose a serious health hazard, particularly in residential areas.

"The reason for the ordinance is that research has proven that the types of fuel used, and the scale and duration of burning by outdoor woodburning furnaces, creates noxious and hazardous smoke, soot, fumes, odors and air pollution, and can be detrimental to citizens' health and can deprive neighboring residents of the enjoyment of their property or premises," she said in July. 

Conlon said outdoor wood-fired furnaces are designed to maintain fire over long periods of time, and are designed to operate at low temperatures when not heating. What's more, she said, they frequently have a lower chimney height than an indoor stove. 

"Restricted airflow and low operating temperatures can cause smoldering that results in excessive smoke," she said. "The smoke can cause both acute and chronic health problems if nearby residents are exposed. The adoption of a local ordinance regulating outdoor wood stoves is currently the best way to address these issues proactively."

The state of Wisconsin is also aggressively pushing local regulation of the units.

According to the state Department of Health Services, wood smoke contains a concoction of at least 100 different compounds in the form of gases and fine sooty particulate matter. Those include six of the Environmental Protection Agency's "criteria pollutants" in the National Ambient Air Quality Standard, including ozone, carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides, particulate matter, and sulfur dioxide.

The American Lung Association is also promoting local ordinances. According to that group, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has stated that if a visible plume of smoke is present, the OWB is, without question, exceeding federal air quality standards.  What's more, the group says, even when there is no visible plume, the air quality frequently is unsafe for human health.  The lung association recommends that OWBs be placed no closer than 500 feet from the nearest neighbor, a far stricter requirement than the proposed Oneida County ordinance. 

"Outdoor wood boilers can literally run night and day for six to eight months each year," said Ric Soto, a toxicologist and leadership board member of the Lung Association.  "That can be a potential nightmare for a person living nearby who has asthma or heart disease. It can even reach the point where that person is forced out of his or her home, because the smoke gets so bad."

 

No consensus

Not everybody is on board with the proposed regulations.

Many county supervisors say they have received a lot of calls from people opposing the regulations, which in part prompted the demand for a public hearing.

And earlier this year, the county's zoning committee nixed a board of health request to help write the ordinance. The zoning department would be in charge of issuing permits for the units, because that department regulates structures and is set up to issue permits for structures, while the health department is not.

Still, zoning committee members felt the matter was a health issue, not a zoning one, and decided to let the board of health take its own resolution to the county board and to have the county board, if it so desired, direct the zoning committee to get involved.

Zoning committee chairman Scott Holewinski has been skeptical of the regulations. This past year he referred to the whole issue as a "can of worms."

"This sounds good, but what about the people who use firewood because they can't afford gas?" he asked. "Now you're going to tell them they can't have this, which is what is going to happen. It's just like anything else. How much do we want to regulate?"

Full Article: CLICK HERE

November 14, 2008 (Canada)

Hampstead passes by-law banning wood-burning 'appliances'

by Martin C. Barry

Throwing a few logs onto the fire to ward off the chills, or boosting a home's market value by saying it has a fireplace, could soon be memories in the Town of Hampstead, where a bylaw cracking down on wood-burning has just been passed.

By-law No. 729-2, dealing with construction and plumbing, as well as wood-burning appliances, states that "no person shall install a wood burning appliance, in which wood or solid fuel is burned and which discharges combustion products to the air, in or about any residential property."

The by-law defines "wood burning appliance" as "a fireplace insert, wood stove, central furnace or similar device, including a pellet stove and any outdoor solid fuel combustion appliance." It further states that "this by-law does not apply to barbeques."

A fireplace insert is a device, usually a steel chamber with glass door in front and vents around, that is inserted into a brick fireplace. Its purpose is to increase heating efficiency.

"It is the responsibility of every property owner that already has such appliances installed to comply with this article of the By-law within seven (7) years of it coming into force," the by-law adds.

Responding to a resident's questions about the ban during last week's town council meeting, Mayor Bill Steinberg said the purpose was "to get people not to use their fireplaces on days when there's a lot of smog … A lot of people are using it when there's a lot of smog. It's a health hazard for old people, young people, people who have respiratory diseases."

In an interview, Steinberg told The Monitor, "I don't know how early we are on this. I think we're one of the first towns doing it. But I suspect if others haven't done it, including Montreal, they will be doing it — some maybe even more stringent than we are.

"They may even ban fireplaces. But we feel this is a reasonable measure to take at this point in time, because the smog that's created by wood burning appliances is a serious problem …

"I don't think there are any people in Hampstead who are contemplating putting in any wood burning appliances," he added. "But if they are, they will not be able to do so as soon as the by-law is published."

While Steinberg acknowledged that even his home is equipped with a fireplace, he said, "The truth is it's been years since we used our fireplace and that's what we would encourage people to do.

"If you have a fireplace — and most homes in Hampstead do have fireplaces — okay, use them once in a while. But don't use them on a regular basis. It's bad for people's health."

Full Article: CLICK HERE

November 13, 2008 (radio broadcast)

Please click below to hear the radio broadcast


Wood-burning heating devices could pose serious health risks

by Ambar Espinoza, Minnesota Public Radio
November 12, 2008
 

St. Cloud, Minn. — Jamie and Marty O'Link's four-bedroom house is nestled among a wooded area in St. Cloud overlooking a Mississippi River channel. They built it almost 20 years ago.

A fire pit and piles of wood stacked in their back yard remind them of a time when they romanticized the smell of wood smoke. Their next-door neighbors used to heat their home with wood throughout the entire winter, and the constant smoke that traveled to the O'Link's home all those years became a nuisance.

That nuisance may be the primary factor behind Jamie's health problems. Earlier this year during her annual physical, her doctor had some bad news.

"She basically told me I have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease," Jaime said. Her doctor told her that it was more commonly known as emphysema, and that Jamie had to stop smoking.

"But I don't smoke," Jaime told her doctor.

Jamie has never smoked and neither has her husband, although her parents smoked when she was a kid. At 52, she still maintains a pretty athletic lifestyle. Her doctor told her she likely got sick from her constant exposure to wood smoke during the past twenty winters. That's because wood smoke contains fine particles and several gases known to be harmful to a person's health.

"It's very similar to the smoke from tobacco smoke that we know is harmful," said Chuck Stroebel, a research scientist with the Minnesota Department of Health. Stroebel said most people are familiar with wood smoke's short-term, mild effects, such as burning eyes and breathing problems.

"But the fine particles and other pollutants from wood smoke may also trigger more serious respiratory effects like asthma, bronchitis, emphysema," Stroebel said.

Stroebel said emerging research shows that exposure to the fine particles from wood smoke and other air pollution sources are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular problems, like heart attacks and heart arrhythmias.

"This is because the particles in the wood smoke are so small that they get into the deep parts of the lung," Stroebel said. "And then [those particles] can actually get into the blood stream and then enter systemic circulation."

Stroebel said it's hard to definitively link a particular exposure to a health problem, but said a growing body of evidence points to a strong relationship between levels of fine particles in the air and various health problems. Stroebel notes that smoke can travel distances, and wood smoke adds to the other sources of fine particles in the air. That includes emissions from vehicles and power plants.

Those fine particles and gases are still a concern even with wood-heating devices that are newer or have the EPA's stamp of approval.

John Seltz is with the air policy unit at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. He said newer, certified wood stove models made since 1988 are about three times cleaner than older ones and require less wood. But he still cautions their use.

"A new style wood stove still emits maybe 100 to 150 times more particulate matter than a gas furnace or an oil furnace, so there is still a fair amount more pollution coming out of the wood burning appliance," Seltz said.

Seltz said the same is true of EPA-certified outdoor wood boilers, the wood heating device that's the biggest concern among environmental and health experts. There is no certification requirement for outdoor wood boilers but the EPA has a voluntary certification program.

When homeowners are evaluating how to heat their homes, Seltz said there's always a trade-off.

"Certainly burning wood does reduce the carbon footprint because burning a renewable fuel reduces the overall carbon emissions, but there is this counter-veiling concern about particulate matter in the air and the direct health effects, so there is a balancing act," Seltz said.

Back at the O'Link's, Jamie and Marty said they initially weren't looking forward to this winter. But, once they sat down with their neighbors to explain why it was important for Jamie to minimize her exposure to smoke, the neighbors agreed to limit heating their home with wood this year.

"We are so grateful to our neighbors. It has been wonderful," Jamie said.

"We've been able to sit in our screened-in porch right through the cool season," Marty O'Link said.

The O'Links said they hope state agencies will do more to educate people about the health effects of wood smoke. According to a residential wood combustion report by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, more than half a dozen Minnesota municipalities have adopted or are considering ordinances that address residential wood combustion. These municipalities have approached the issue from issuing permit requirements and separation distances to outright bans.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

November 13, 2008

Wood Burning Boiler Debate
 
by Jennifer Jefcoat

"We are sensitive to reducing the cost of heating. In the same token we have to create an environment that's conducive for health."

That's Mayor Glenn Holmes of McDonald.  He along with city council members are trying to decide if wood boilers should be allowed in their village.

"We have a unique dynamic here in McDonald where we have about twelve hundred homes in a one mile square.  And that doesn't bode well for a wood burner that may emit smoke under certain conditions," says Mayor Holmes.

A wood burning boiler is basically a large outdoor furnace that can be used to heat your home and your water.

Opponents say the problem is the shorter metal chimneys can keep the heavy smoke closer to the ground, creating health concerns.

But Jim Brunk sells the boilers and says if newer cleaner models are used properly, they don't pose a risk.

"What about smoke?  Really if you're using a good quality wood , you really don't have that much smoke," says Brunk with Brunk & Sons Inc.

In fact, Brunk says many times you'd have more smoke from throwing a few logs on a fireplace than you would from an outdoor boiler.

Brunk says, "From a safety aspect or smoke aspect, if it's installed properly and run properly, absolutely no issues at all."

Still, the Mayor of McDonald says the village is working to educate itself on the pros and cons of the devices for the good of the community.

"At a very minimum a stack height requirement and a feet to the next resident requirement and I think the maximum, the downright prohibition," says Mayor Holmes.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

November 13, 2008

Henrietta Township couple suing maker of wood boiler

by Danielle Quisenberry | Jackson Citizen Patriot
Thursday November 13, 2008, 7:15 AM

A Henrietta Township couple is suing a Minnesota outdoor wood boiler manufacturer that they allege knowingly creates and sells heating devices proven to be harmful to human health.

A Texas lawyer filed the suit last month in the District Court of Hennepin County, Minn., on behalf of Roger and Mary Soldano — whose neighbor used a wood boiler. The defendant is Red Lake Falls, Minn.-based Northwest Manufacturing Inc.

"Northwest Manufacturing has known about the dangerous emissions and smoke generated by the (outdoor wood boiler) in question and others like it for some time and has failed to warn the public or take any action to correct a defectively designed product," the lawsuit reads.

"As a direct and proximate result of the reckless, negligent, callous, and outrageous acts and omissions of Defendant Northwest Manufacturing Inc., Roger Soldano has sustained serious debilitating injuries."

The company's president could not be reached for comment.

Soldano's wife also has suffered long-lasting health effects and the company should be held liable for the pair's past and future medical expenses, loss of earnings and earning capacity, and their diminished enjoyment of life, according to the document.

The Soldanos' neighbor, Richard Cady on Hankerd Road near Mud Lake, for two heating seasons used an outdoor wood boiler that transfers heat through water lines from an outside structure to a home. He bought the device, a Woodmaster 4400, from Northwest Manufacturing.

Increasingly popular and largely unregulated in Michigan, the boilers are touted as inexpensive alternatives to gas or propane heat.

They also have been proven to be inefficient polluters, according to health and environmental organizations.

"It is really surprising these things are still on the market," said Soldano's lawyer, Joseph E. Ritch, who specializes in product-liability law in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Todd Strem, Northwest Manufacturing's sales and marketing manager, said last month that the company is developing more efficient, cleaner-burning models and encourages users to be conscientious of their neighbors and follow "best burn practices."

The company has worked with the Environmental Protection Agency to come up with federal standards, now voluntary, for outdoor wood boilers, he said.

On Sept. 30, Jackson County Circuit Judge Chad Schmucker ordered Cady to remove or make inoperable his wood boiler after a Jackson County health officer informed Cady the boiler was a public health hazard.

The order prohibits Cady from using the burner until the matter is settled before or after a trial scheduled for Feb. 25.

The Jackson County case is separate from the Minnesota case, which does not involve Cady.

Cady's burner sat about 180 feet downwind from the Soldano house, according to court records and caused a cloud of smoke to settle over his neighbors.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

November 13, 2008

Orwigsburg bans outdoor furnaces

ORWIGSBURG — Orwigsburg Borough on Wednesday joined a growing list of area municipalities saying “no” to new outdoor furnaces.

BY DAMIAN GESSEL
STAFF WRITER
dgessel@republicanherald.com
Published: Thursday, November 13, 2008 4:17 AM EST

ORWIGSBURG — Orwigsburg Borough on Wednesday joined a growing list of area municipalities saying “no” to new outdoor furnaces.

By a unanimous vote, council enacted a ban on installing new outdoor furnaces at Wednesdays meeting in an effort to curtail smoke, Borough Manager Michael Lonergan said.

“We’re concerned about the nuisance caused by their smoke,” Lonergan said Wednesday.

There is currently only one outdoor furnace in Orwigsburg, he noted. It will be allowed to remain.

Council President Charles Sterner said he believes the ordinance will cut off at the pass an influx of outdoor furnaces.

“There aren’t a lot yet,” said Sterner, “but we want to stop it before there are.”

Port Carbon Borough on Tuesday enacted a similar furnace restriction. The city of Pottsville adopted their own restrictions last month.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

November 12, 2008

N. Smithfield bans wood boilers

The Associated Press
Published: November 12, 2008

NORTH SMITHFIELD, R.I. - North Smithfield has become the first town in Rhode Island to ban wood boilers, a cheap source of heat that can leave thick clouds of smoke.

The ban, adopted last month, came after an increasing number of people turned to wood boilers as the cost of natural gas, oil and electricity skyrocketed.

A typical wood boiler is smaller than a utility shed and stands outside a home. Fired with wood, it heats water that is pumped through a home to circulate heat.

The best systems use seasoned wood and meet anti-pollution standards set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. But a report by a group of air quality officials found that one wood heater produced more pollution than 8,000 natural gas furnaces.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

November 12, 2008

Use of outdoor furnaces has some neighbors boiling mad

By Peter B. Lord

Journal Environment Writer

Paul M. Leclerc was dropping his daughter off at a friend’s house in North Smithfield last winter when he came across an unforgettable scene. Smoke from a neighbor’s outdoor wood-fired boiler clung to the ground, totally enveloping the friend’s house.

“The people were trying to figure out how they could live like that — it was so smoky that details of the house were unclear and the smoke detectors were going off. They asked me to do something.”

In nearby Foster, Steve Charette’s neighbor fired up an outdoor boiler two months ago and drove Charette and his family out of their house.

“Our twin 2-year-olds were miserable. My wife was miserable. We were all coughing,” Charette said. “The smoke was unbearable.”

Leclerc, a member of the North Smithfield Town Council, proposed an ordinance to keep the smoky furnaces out of his town’s compact villages. After a year of hearings and studies, the ordinance was passed last month and North Smithfield became the first Rhode Island community to regulate the increasingly popular heating units.

Charette sought help from every municipal and state official he could think of, with no success. He has finally found a lawyer.

More and more people are buying outdoor wood-fueled boilers here and throughout the Northeast in response to rising energy costs. Most are simply trying to save money. But some are prompting unpleasant surprises for their neighbors.

The systems look very similar to portable toilets, though they are larger and topped with a smokestack.

The heart of a typical system is a large boiler that heats hot water that is pumped underground and into houses. Many people use the systems for heat in the winter, but some use them to heat their hot water year round.

The best systems, using seasoned wood and modern clean-air technology, can burn efficiently and meet guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. But most systems don’t meet those standards, and some homeowners have created additional problems by burning trash or green wood.

A recent report for a nonprofit collaborative of air-quality officials in eight Northeastern states (Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management) found a number of problems with the boilers. One study it cited found a typical boiler produced as many emissions as 22 EPA-certified wood stoves, 205 oil furnaces and as many as 8,000 natural gas furnaces.

The report said the particle emissions from the boilers raise public health concerns over a “suite of respiratory and cardiac morbidity outcomes as well as premature mortality.”

The elderly, children and people with cardiopulmonary disease may be at a higher health risk, it concluded. The report also found the boilers:

• Generally don’t use emission control devices that are commonly used on wood stoves.

• Emit significantly more particulate matter than other residential wood-burning devices.

• Have large fire boxes that allow people to burn a variety of inappropriate materials. Enforcement agencies have found outdoor boilers burning “tires, large bags of refuse and railroad ties.”

• Often don’t burn completely and usually have short smokestacks, so they create a lot of pollution that remains concentrated nearby.

Based on sales trends, the collaborative estimated there could be 500,000 outdoor boilers in use by 2010. It found it typically costs $8,000 to $10,000 to buy and install the boilers.

Historically, the group said, boilers generally went on the market in the 1980s, but sales didn’t spike until after 1999. Some 95 percent of the 155,000 boilers sold went to 19 states in the Northeast and Midwest. It estimated 206 units were sold in Rhode Island.

The report recommended that states adopt regulations to set emission limits because it said the EPA was failing to set national standards.

The report prompted one manufacturer to threaten a lawsuit, but the agency stood by the report.

“The tragedy of their response was they were missing the point,” says Paul Miller, NESCAUM’s deputy director. “What’s driving this isn’t regulators looking for work, it’s the neighbors. Whether we disappear won’t make the problem disappear. The companies could make these things pollute less.

“These don’t belong in densely populated areas. They were developed by farmers who had plenty of land,” said Miller. “But once someone spends $5,000 or more for one of these, it’s hard to say, ‘Oops.’ ”

Last year the EPA came out with voluntary guidelines that set stricter pollution standards for the boilers, requiring them to burn 70 percent cleaner. Seven manufacturers pledged to make at least one unit each complying with the strict standards, the EPA said.

One company, Greenwood Technologies, promotes its new clean burning stove that uses superheated air and consumes less than half the wood. But Greenwood points out many companies continue to produce traditional stoves producing lots of smoke.

In the meantime, so many variables in the quality of wood burned, the location of chimneys, and the weather can cause problems for neighbors. Boilermakers like to compare their products to wood stoves, Miller said. But that misses the point. A typical wood stove is designed to heat one or two rooms, while outdoor boilers are sized to heat a house, its hot water, even a Jacuzzi — they burn much more wood and create more pollution.

The sudden influx of such systems is catching state and local governments unprepared

“It’s a relatively new phenomenon,” says Barbara Morin, of the state Department of Environmental Management’s Office of Air Resources. “We didn’t have more than one or two of these until three years ago. Now, they’re starting to get more popular. And it’s a big issue because they can produce massive amounts of particulates.

“We get our fair share of complaints about wood stoves, but this is worse,” Morin said.

She said the DEM doesn’t feel it has authority over residential air emission problems. Even if it did, it doesn’t have the staff to respond to individual complaints.

“Some situations pull at your heart,” she added. “People in their own homes who can’t breathe.”

“The problem is a real problem, but from a legal perspective, it requires a private course of action,” says Tricia Jedele, environmental advocate for Attorney General Patrick C. Lynch. So far she has heard only one complaint, but she says it raises interesting public policy concerns.

As energy prices continue to climb, she says, the state would be wise to help people heat their homes in ways that are cleaner.

“If more and more people become impacted, or are robbed by products not working effectively, I don’t think our office would mind looking into this more. But for now, this is something that can be regulated at the municipal level.”

Towns can mandate site setbacks and the use of seasoned wood, she said.

North Smithfield did more. While 19 units are grandfathered in town, any new units must meet the EPA standards. They must burn only clean wood. And they may only be used on lots of 2¾ acres or larger.

Leclerc says he’s proud of what the town did. And he’s sure it won’t be the last town to pass its own ordinance.

In Foster, Town Council President Colette Matarese says the smell of wood smoke is a part of rural life.

She said she’d like to help out Charette, but his problem is more of a civil issue between him and his neighbor. She’d prefer to see them talk out their differences.

Charette says he is considering going to court.

“These wood boilers are the most brainless contraption ever created,” he said. “The EPA made laws for indoor wood stoves that burn extremely hot to allow for complete combustion. These boiler companies do the exact opposite. They build a device 10 times the size of an EPA-certified wood stove, smolder the wood and create a steady stream of toxic smoke, put a short stack on it and stick it in a residential community. What were they thinking?”

For more information from the EPA about the wood boilers, go to www.epa.gov/woodheaters.

For copies of the NESCAUM report and industry response, go to: www.nescaum.org/documents/assessment-of-outdoor-wood-fired-boilers.

plord@projo.com

Full Article: CLICK HERE

November 12, 2008

Port Carbon council passes exterior furnace ordinance

PORT CARBON — Borough council added Port Carbon to a growing list of local municipalities restricting the use of outdoor wood furnaces when it passed its own exterior furnace ordinance at Tuesday’s meeting.

BY DUSTIN PANGONIS
STAFF WRITER
dpangonis@republicanherald.com
Published: Wednesday, November 12, 2008 4:15 AM EST

PORT CARBON — Borough council added Port Carbon to a growing list of local municipalities restricting the use of outdoor wood furnaces when it passed its own exterior furnace ordinance at Tuesday’s meeting.

Under the ordinance, the furnaces used for home heating are not permitted on any residential property of less than five acres. The council said there are only about two properties in the borough that qualify, so the ordinance acts as an effective ban.

Borough solicitor William Burke said he drew up the restrictions to be similar to those outlined in Mechanicsville’s exterior furnace ordinance. Many local municipalities have passed or considered passing similar ordinances because of concerns over air pollution.

“We’re facing a problem with the air quality standards when you’re burning wood in a small residential space,” Burke said.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

November 11, 2008

Where there’s smoke ... | Portage Twp. latest to govern outdoor furnaces

The Tribune-Democrat

Portage Township last week moved to rein in what some believe is a real stink in the community.

The supervisors joined a growing number of municipalities forced to establish rules on the installation of outdoor, free-standing furnaces.

The board was wise, although some residents no doubt are asking: What took so long? Complaints have been ongoing for the past three years.

Meanwhile, other municipal leaders in Cambria and Somerset counties can address the matter now or wait until they’re forced to act in response to angry residents.

Although the furnaces have been on the market for a number of years, skyrocketing fuel costs earlier this year prompted a sharp increase in their interest and sales.

Portage’s decision to draw up an ordinance came after repeated complaints from a resident about the smells coming from what he said is burning trash and unsuitable wood in a neighbor’s outdoor furnace.

The man also complain-ed about heavy smoke, saying that his wife seldom was unable to hang her laundry outside on wash day.

Although the furnaces meet government standards, the problem apparently lies in improper installation and in the materials being burned. In other words, it’s more of a common sense issue or lack thereof.

The Portage supervisors said their ordinance would establish rules on installation, including siting and smokestack standards, and the materials permitted to be burned.

Existing furnaces would also come under the new ordinance, they said.

“If (the furnaces are) not put up right, this room is going to be packed with angry residents,” said Supervisor Ken Trimbath.

“We can’t continue to have people (using furnaces) without some guidelines.”

How right he is.

At a time when the state Department of Environmental Protection has been increasingly restrictive on power plant and auto emissions that foul the air, we can’t imagine incorrectly installed or operated private outdoor furnaces being allowed to smoke-up or stink-up a residential neighborhood.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

November 11, 2008

Wilbraham waits for state

Tuesday, November 11, 2008
By SUZANNE McLAUGHLIN
smclaughlin@repub.com

WILBRAHAM - The Board of Selectmen last night decided to delay taking action on regulating outdoor wood-fired boilers.

Pamela Beall, secretary to the selectmen, said the state Department of Environmental Protection is expected to pass regulations on outdoor wood-fired boilers in December.

If the state passes regulations, those regulations would govern outdoor boilers in Wilbraham, Selectman James E. Thompson said.

"If the state passes regulations, that will standardize the regulations across the state," Selectman David W. Barry said.

The town does not have regulations for outdoor wood-fired boilers.

Health Agent Lorri A. McCool told the board there are about six outdoor wood-fired boilers in town. Building Inspector Lance W. Trevallion said the town has had no official complaints on them.

Communities that ban wood-fired boilers include Chicopee, Holyoke, Longmeadow, Palmer and South Hadley. Communities that regulate wood-fired boilers include Northampton, Belchertown and Hampden.

Beall told selectmen they could pass regulations in the event that the state does not pass the regulations.

"We'll see what the state does," Thompson said. "If the state doesn't act, then the town will act."

The town would hold a public hearing before passing any regulations.

McCool said that manufacturers include regulations on how high the stack should be and when the boilers should be used. The boilers can cost $10,000 to install. McCool said that whether using fireplaces or outdoor wood-fired boilers, residents should burn only clean, dry wood.

Regulations adopted in Hampden last year require that the boilers be built no closer than 250 feet to a neighboring building and that the chimneys of the outdoor boilers exceed the height of neighboring buildings by two feet.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

November 11, 2008

Spencer-Van Etten Town Talk: Spencer passes outdoor furnace law

The Village of Spencer now has an outdoor woodburning furnace law.

At their Nov. 4 meeting, the village board adopted regulations to protect neighbors from the hazards of breathing large particles, obnoxious odors and heavy smoke. Outdoor furnaces must meet Environmental Protection Agency standards for emissions and must not cause a nuisance (clearly defined in the law) to neighbors. Owners may only burn clean, dry, seasoned wood or untreated lumber — no garbage or construction debris.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

November 7, 2008

Meetings start Monday on proposed wood-burning rules

By Staff Reports

Meetings are scheduled starting next week on proposed air quality rules, one of which would make a voluntary woodburning ban in place this winter, mandatory effective November 2009.

The Butte County Air Quality Management is proposing the rules to reduce the amount of small particulate pollution, which exceeds federal health standards several times each winter.

Under the Clean Air Act, the district is required to come up with a plan to reduce the pollution to a safe level.

The problem has been determined to be caused by fireplace and wood-burning stove use on nights when the air is still. The lack of circulation allows microscopic bits of soot and ash to hang in the air and build up to dangerous levels.

The district has a voluntary "Check Before You Light" program in place this winter that asks residents of "high smoke" areas — currently just Chico — to check air quality predictions before starting a wood fire, and refrain from doing so if the forecast is bad.

The program includes an educational component that involves notifying residents who light fires on such days when they shouldn't.

One proposed rule would make the ban mandatory in Chico next winter. The other rule would limit the number of wood-burning devices allowed in a single home and outlaw outdoor wood-fired boilers.

Full Article:  CLICK HERE

November 6, 2008

Portage hopes to clear the air with new outdoor furnace rules

By KATHY MELLOTT
The Tribune-Democrat

PORTAGE November 06, 2008 11:26 pm

After three years of complaining about odors coming from a neighbor’s outdoor furnace, Ron Popchak should finally get some relief.
The Portage Township supervisors this week introduced an ordinance setting rules on installation of outdoor furnaces and, more importantly for Popchak, for the first time residents will see restrictions on what they can burn in the free-standing furnaces.
Popchak’s concern expressed at meetings for the past three years from fall through spring has been about the smells coming from what he said is burning trash and unsuitable wood.
He also finds the furnace’s smoke objectionable, which at times lies low in the hollow of the Miller Shaft neighborhood where he lives.
The smoke prevents him from going outside with his grandson, and wash day for his wife means laundry seldom gets hung on the outdoor clothes line.
“This is gonna help,” Popchak said of the ordinance to be advertised later this month for December adoption.
Implementation of the ordinance, mirroring many already in effect in a host of municipalities in Cambria and Somerset counties, could become law as early as January.
The siting and smokestack standards spelled out in the ordinance will have no impact on the outdoor furnaces already installed throughout the township, including the one next to Popchak.
But the supervisors are determined they will enforce compliance on the fuel regulations regardless of how long the furnaces have been operational.
“The existing furnaces must meet the requirements for what is being burned,” Supervisor Ken Trimbath said. “This covers everybody.”
The ordinance spells out suitable fuel sources such as natural wood without additives, wood pellets, coal, oil and gas.
Skyrocketing fuel costs earlier this year prompted a sharp increase in interest by residents looking at outdoor furnaces to save money, Trimbath said.
Some of the unacceptable fuel sources include household garbage, processed or painted wood and plastic.
“If (the furnaces are) not put up right, this room is going to be packed with angry residents,” Trimbath said.
“We can’t continue to have people (using furnaces) without some guidelines.”

Full Article: CLICK HERE

November 4, 2008

Secondhand smoke may have something to do with surge in outdoor wood boilers

Published Tuesday, November 4, 2008

One of the most common reader responses to my column Sunday about the growing problem of wood smoke pollution was the comment that not all wood-burning stoves and outdoor boilers are created equal.

The Environmental Protection Agency has had standards on wood stove emissions for two decades. The pollution created by a modern EPA-certified wood stove is far below that of models from the 1970s or 1980s or homemade barrel stoves.

One of the more visible local trends after the severe spike in oil prices was the sale of roughly 1,500 outdoor boilers that burn wood or coal, according to a borough estimate based on comments from dealers.

The pollution levels from outdoor wood boilers vary, and their use has become controversial in many states. Unlike wood stoves, they are not subject to mandatory design standards aimed at limiting pollution.

They burn wood at lower combustion temperatures and heat water that circulates through a house. The stacks from the boilers are often low to the ground, and some of the units emit a great deal of soot and smoke.

The borough exceeded the particles per million level of the air quality standard Friday and Saturday, thanks in large part to wood smoke, which was visible over the valley.

Outdoor boilers are restricted in Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire and are banned in some communities Outside.

A report by the air quality directors of six Northeast states asserts that a typical outdoor boiler gives off at least 20 times more pollution than an EPA-certified wood stove and as much particulate matter as 50 to 500 diesel trucks.

In Fairbanks, there are no restrictions on outdoor boilers. As this winter progresses, however, the smoke they produce is likely to generate more debate on whether regulation is warranted.

In the meantime, the Interior Issues Council, a volunteer group, is continuing its effort to sort through the facts on the in-state use of natural gas and how cleaner fuel might help meet the new EPA clean air standard for the tiny particles of soot and other debris that are a product of incomplete combustion.

Part of the overall analysis of natural gas in Fairbanks has to include a recognition that lowering the societal costs of meeting the pollution standard is an economic benefit that belongs in the calculation.

The next meeting of the volunteer Instate Gas Supply Task Force is at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday in the Borough Assembly chambers.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

November 3, 2008

Sterling considers banning outdoor furnaces

STERLING - People might need to stick with conventional heat sources as temperatures begin to drop.

The City Council tonight will consider banning outdoor wood-burning furnaces within the city.

At this point, there are no wood-burning furnaces within the city limits and a few outside of the city, said City Manager Scott Shumard; however, city staff members have received some inquiries about the boilers because of rising energy costs.

City staff believe that these types of boilers are best suited for less densely populated areas because of the safety and health risks the smoke will produce, Shumard said.

The risks are the same from leaf burning, which Sterling has also banned, Shumard said.

Rock Falls recently adopted an ordinance that allows the use of outdoor wood-burning furnaces, but attached restrictions to make them difficult to use.

The Rock Falls ordinance specifies only untreated wood, wood pellets, corn products, or biomass pellets can be burned in wood furnaces.

Rock Falls also requires furnaces to be at least 100 feet from any house that does not have an indoor furnace.

It also requires the chimney of the furnace be at least 2 feet above the peak of any residence within 300 feet of the furnace.

To attend

The Sterling City Council will meet at 6:30 tonight in the Coliseum, 212 Third Ave.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

November 2, 2008

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection relaxes grounds necessary for the inspection of outdoor wood furnaces

Sunday, November 02, 2008
By SARAH WOJCIK
The Express-Times

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is relaxing the grounds necessary to trigger an inspection of an outdoor wood furnace, according to a department memo.

The note, sent by DEP Administrator Edward Choromanski, explains the revision of department policy allowing wood burner examinations "for those discovered through routine inspection, anonymous tips or other means of discovering outdoors wood burner installation locations."

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The practice prior to the revision required a complaint to be filed before health officials could take action regarding the heating devices. The memo was dated Tuesday.

Outdoor wood boilers are not illegal in New Jersey, but the state regulates the frequency of the heaters' emissions to less than three minutes for every 30-minute period.

New Jersey Assemblyman Michael Doherty, R-Warren/Hunterdon, called the change in policy "outrageous."

Doherty said many constituents have expressed a desire to use the wood-burning heaters this year, especially as fuel costs remain high.

"We're heading into winter and people need these units to heat their homes," Doherty said. "We now have the DEP going out there as a predator."

Doherty said he will be discussing the policy change with fellow legislators to find ways of protecting furnace owners.

Department spokeswoman Karen Hershey said the department is concerned with the breathing hazards associated with the wood burner emissions.

"This provides us with more opportunities to become aware of outdoor wood boilers that may not be operating in compliance with the state regulations," she said.

Local advocates for the furnaces have been urging townships to adopt regulations to keep the units in operation without endangering neighbors. Paul Berezny, of Sunshine Tree and Landscape in Stewartsville, has proposed ordinances calling for chimney heights among other requirements.

"This is insane," Berezny said of the DEP policy change, "It's basically forcing people to buy oil when some of them cannot afford it."

According to the DEP's memo, property owners can be excused of all penalties associated with a violation "only if the resident elects to render (the unit) permanently inoperable or have the unit removed from existing property."

Reporter Sarah Wojcik can be reached at 610-258-7171 or by e-mail at swojcik@express-times.com.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

November 2, 2008

As Fairbanks shifts to economical wood heat, pollution problem hangs in air

Published Sunday, November 2, 2008

A widespread layer of yellow haze hung over the Fairbanks area Saturday, the product of stagnant air and the shift to wood heat.

The additional pollution from hundreds — or perhaps thousands — of new wood-burning stoves and outdoor furnaces is increasing air pollution at a time when we are already failing to meet federal air standards.

In the years ahead, violating the air standards may jeopardize federal spending and make it more likely that the economy will contract and not expand.

There will be two problems if the air is declared unhealthy.

First, it won’t be good for the economy. Second, it won’t be good for those who breathe.

The federal government could require steps be taken to show how the air can be improved. Some of those steps are likely to be expensive, inconvenient or both.

Beyond the economic damage, the effects of inhaling tiny particles of soot and dust — which build up in the atmosphere on days when there is no wind to speak of — are damaging to the lungs and heart.

The Environmental Protection Agency says the greatest health risk is posed by particles that are practically invisible — one-thirtieth the width of a human hair or smaller. When these are inhaled, they lodge deep in the lungs.

Some of these particles may remain there permanently, increasing the risk of disease. With new research, the levels considered “safe” are dropping.

On Friday, the air quality in Fairbanks was judged “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” meaning the most vulnerable members of the population. People with lung disease, heart disease, the elderly and children were advised to limit how much time they spent outdoors.

The 24-hour average for fine particulates Friday was listed at 40.3 micrograms per cubic meter.

There are communities in the Lower 48 where mandatory burning restrictions are enforced at those levels. That is not under discussion in Fairbanks, but the question of regulating woodstoves will be a heated topic in the next few years.

Under the old EPA standard, in effect before 2006, the 40.3 microgram reading would have been considered OK. But under the new rule, the fine particulate standard is 35 micrograms per cubic meter, down from 65 micrograms.

A variety of health groups, including the American Lung Association, have criticized the new standard for not being low enough, saying the nation needs a 24-hour average of 25 micrograms and a lower annual average than accepted by EPA to protect people from disease.

When there is not enough wind to blow out a match, which happens often in Fairbanks, the pollutants released into the air tend to stay where they are. The problem that Fairbanks struggled with for years — carbon monoxide, an odorless, tasteless and invisible poison — was largely cured by advances in pollution-control equipment on automobiles, but the soot in the air is an entirely different issue, given the need for winter heat and the high cost of oil.

In the months ahead, we’ll be hearing much more about fine particulates and a battle that finds local and state officials on one side and the EPA on the other.

The EPA is proposing that a substantial portion of the populated area of the borough be designated as a “nonattainment” area. The bigger the nonattainment area, the more difficult it will be to reach compliance and avoid the unhealthy label.

The state and local efforts are aimed at shrinking that area to keep it as small as possible.

The volunteer group known as the Interior Issues Council, which meets under the auspices of the Fairbanks Economic Development Corporation, is trying to gather numbers on the relationship between particulate pollution and the benefits to be gained by lowering the cost of energy.

In particular, the group is studying how natural gas might boost the economy and lower pollution, two related goals.

If gas is cheap enough, it could replace some dirtier energy sources and boost the economy.

The gas supply task force, headed by veteran Fairbanks engineer Frank Abegg, is facing a difficult job by the end of this year — mainly because there are so many unknowns and variables about supplying natural gas and time is short.

But the research project is a laudable step in the right direction.

If you have a column suggestion or a comment, contact me at cole@newsminer.com or 459-7530.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

November 2, 2008

AQMD extinguishes wood-burning fireplaces

SOUTHLAND--It’s the beginning of the end for wood-burning fireplaces.

Air quality officials Friday approved an incentive program that gives consumers up to $150 to convert their fireplaces to clean-burning gas logs.

The AQMD says smoke from wood-burning fireplaces generates four-times as much pollution as all the power plants in the metropolitan portions of Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Orange counties. During the winter, that amounts to 13 tons a day.

It’s estimated there are 1.4 million homes in the Southland with wood-burning stoves and fireplaces.

* Beginning March 7, 2009, only fireplaces fueled by gas (such as gas logs) may be installed in a new residential or commercial building in the Southland. Permanently installed indoor or outdoor wood-burning fireplaces or stoves are not permitted after this date in new construction;

* Beginning March 7, 2009, only the cleanest-burning wood stoves and heaters, and dedicated gas heaters, may be sold in the Southland and permanently installed in existing homes and buildings. These include U.S. EPA Phase II-certified fireplace inserts or stoves; pellet-fueled heaters; masonry heaters or gas heating units such as gas inserts or gas logs;

* Effective immediately, commercial wood sellers in the four-county region may only sell seasoned wood (with less than 20 percent moisture content)
from July 1 through February each year;

* Effective immediately, residents cannot burn trash or other items not intended to be used as fuel in a fireplace or wood stove; and

* Beginning on Nov. 1, 2011, AQMD will issue mandatory wood-burning curtailments from November through February in specific areas on days when PM2.5 levels are forecast to reach unhealthy levels.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

October 30, 2008

Bemidji considers restrictions on wood-burning stoves

By: Chuck Haga

Wrapped in woods, nestled by a lake and the beginnings of a great river, Bemidji has always prided itself on being a postcard place up north: natural and mythic, relaxed and four-seasons outdoorsy, with the nostalgic scent of wood smoke a fragrant reminder of place and lifestyle.

"I was just out this morning, running some errands, and you couldn't help but notice a nice, pleasant smell of fall in the air, the scent of wood burning," Mayor Richard Lehmann said Tuesday. "It's a pretty fair amount of people who burn wood here."

But spurred by a few citizen complaints that wood smoke represents a health threat, especially to residents who suffer from asthma or other respiratory ailments, the City Council is contemplating a proposed ordinance that would restrict the installation and use of wood-burning stoves within city limits.

Measure delayed for more research
The ordinance was to have its second reading last week, but citizen objections caused the council to delay action until City Attorney Al Felix can do more research and make revisions. Mayor Lehmann said the revised measure could come back to the council next month.

"There is some concern about smoke affecting people with a low tolerance, such as people with asthma," he said. "We're not looking at trying to stop people from using wood as their primary heat source, but some people may have a sensitivity to it."

That's true, says the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), which details the potentially harmful effects of wood smoke on its website.

Burning wood puts fine particles and toxins in the air, which "can trigger asthma attacks in a manner similar to diesel exhaust or secondhand cigarette smoke," according to Laura Oatman, an environmental research scientist with the Minnesota Department of Health.

A variety of harmful substances
Wood smoke contains such harmful substances as carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds and inhalable particulate matter: wood tars, gases, soot, ashes and potentially carcinogenic toxins. Breathing air containing wood smoke can irritate the eyes, lungs, throat and sinuses, health officials report — and not just when you lean into a smoky campfire to roast marshmallows for s'mores. It can reduce lung function, especially in young children, and increase risk of heart attack.

The MPCA recommends that people who burn wood build only small, hot fires with dry, seasoned wood, and to properly maintain stoves and chimneys.

Lehmann said that Bemidji will work with manufacturers of wood-burning stoves and outdoor boilers to set reasonable standards that reduce the risk of health problems. The new ordinance may require stacks or chimneys that take smoke above neighbors' homes, for example, though people with wood burners have objected that higher stacks are unstable and smoke drift is affected more by wind anyway.

The city also wants to learn more about what kinds of wood residents are burning, the mayor said.

"I've burned wood, and as long as it's good, clean wood I don't think it's unpleasant or irritating," Lehmann said.

Council might consider 'grandfathering'
In response to residents who've objected that they've made a substantial investment in wood-burning boilers to heat their homes, city officials have said they might consider "grandfathering" existing stoves out of any new restrictions. But Council Member Nancy Erickson said she isn't sure that makes sense if the city determines the stoves are in fact a health issue.

She said she agrees with Lehmann that a light, lingering scent of wood smoke helps to define Bemidji. The economics of heating with wood are right, she said, and it's true that the quality of fuel used in wood stoves and boilers is a critical factor.

"It's what you burn that we're concerned about," she said. "Treated wood, plywood, garbage — we don't know how prevalent chemicals may be in those, as opposed to clean, dry wood.

"But we're an outdoor community. That's our lifestyle, and part of that is the campfire. People may have a lot invested in their stoves, and right now it's a substantial savings to heat with wood."

Full Article: CLICK HERE

October 28, 2008

Canton mulls crackdown on outdoor appliances
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
BY ED BALINT

CANTON Legislation that would strictly regulate and severely limit outdoor wood-burning appliances is being considered by City Council.

The proposed ordinance, introduced by Councilman James Griffin, D-3, would restrict wood-burning appliances and wood-burning boilers to residential properties no smaller than one acre.

Outdoor wood-burning appliances can be used to heat homes.

While the proposed city law would not be an outright ban, both Griffin and John Labriola, the city's chief building official, acknowledged they are not aware of any one-acre lots in inner-city neighborhoods.

Lots that large would be in the outskirts of the city, Labriola said, using properties near The Quarry Golf Club development as an example.

Griffin said he has received complaints about a house with an outdoor wood-burning appliance in his ward. Labriola said he's aware of two outdoor wood-burning boilers in Canton.

"If you had this in your neighborhood, you'd want it out tomorrow," Griffin told council during a committee meeting Monday night. Referring to the nuisance of smoke, he said, "It's ugly."

Wood-burning appliances and boilers can create nuisances in densely populated residential neighborhoods, said James Adams, the city's health commissioner.

Smoke and odor are issues, he said. Smoke also can exacerbate someone's breathing problems, Adams said.

Councilman Greg Hawk, D-1, said the proposed law should be reviewed more closely. "The way it's written it could (amount) to an out-and-out ban," Hawk said.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

October 24, 2008

Operate outdoor wood-fired boilers safely

It’s the time of year when outdoor wood-fired boiler (OWB) owners begin preparing their units for the long Wisconsin heating season. Based on previous years, when the cost of natural gas and heating oil goes up, so does the demand for alternative, less expensive ways of heating homes and businesses. By the end of September, many OWBs begin operating, shutting down again the following April.

Because of the ready availability of wood, OWBs are becoming more common, particularly in rural areas. OWBs have several attractive features compared to indoor wood stoves; for example, they take the fire hazard and wood handling away from the house.

However, the smoke emissions from improperly operated OWBs can create a public health nuisance and, in many cases, a health hazard for downwind neighbors.

With the increasing reliance on OWBs as an alternative heating source, there has been a corresponding increase in the number of smoke exposure complaints, usually associated with an OWB being improperly located or operated. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) has accumulated historical air monitoring data for smoke particulates (PM2.5) related to OWB emissions. In each case, when a visible smoke plume affects a neighboring house or property, it means US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) PM2.5 health standards have been exceeded.

Strong smoke odors, along with a visible plume, indicate the presence of irritating chemicals normally found in wood smoke. Typically, one or more individuals experience adverse health effects such as respiratory irritation, sinus issues and headaches.

DHS believes that a “cause and effect” relationship has been established between OWB emissions and adverse health effects for downwind neighbors, and that air monitoring is not essential to establish exposure and health impacts. If there are visible emissions and odors at a neighboring residence, there is the potential for adverse health effects.

Local health officials who are called in on smoke exposure complaints can take several steps:

n Meet with the OWB operator to discuss the exposure problem.

n Review wood-burning practices with the operator.

n Check for proper stack height so that smoke will clear neighboring homes.

If additional legal action becomes necessary when efforts at voluntary compliance don’t work, DHS has developed a model enforcement letter that local health officials can use (see below). If the community has an existing OWB ordinance, it will be much easier to prepare the enforcement letter by stating in it which sections of the ordinance are being violated. Additional emphasis can be added by referring to the Wisconsin Environmental Health Statues, Chapter 254.

More information on outdoor wood-fired boilers:

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services and Department of Natural Resources (DNR) encourage communities to develop a local ordinance prescribing whether or not OWBs are allowed and, if allowed, details on location, stack height, operation and other factors to prevent neighbors from being exposed to smoke.

Having an ordinance in place is the best way to protect the public from smoke exposure issues related to OWBs. Creating and adopting such an ordinance often requires cooperation between townships, boards of health and city councils or county boards. Find the DNR model ordinance at dnr.wi.gov/environmentprotect/ob/modelOrdinance.htm or contact DHS for copies of municipal ordinances that are on file.

US-EPA has a voluntary “Orange Tag” program that OWB manufacturers can join, to “improve air quality through developing and distributing cleaner, more efficient outdoor wood-fired hydronic heaters.” Some OWB manufacturers have joined this program and are making more efficient OWBs, though many have not.

So, while a few models of next generation OWBs are available that are more efficient and produce less smoke, emissions are still a concern from OWBs already in operation that are not part of any program. You can find more information on EPS’s “Orange Tag Program” at www.epa.gov/woodheaters/.

It remains imperative that all OWBs be properly located and operated. OWB installation and operation guidelines are available from the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association, and the Outdoor Furnace Manufacturers Caucus. Dealers and installers should be using these guidelines as minimum requirements for the installation and operation of OWBs. See: http://www.hpba.org/fileadmin/PDFs/Tier_IV_Outdoor_Wood_Furnace_Best_Burn_Practices_-_MH1.pdf.

For a copy of the model enforcement letter, or for other questions about OWBs and health, please contact Rob Thiboldeaux at 608-267-6844, Robert.Thiboldeaux@wi.gov; or Bill Otto at 608-266-9337, William.Otto@wi.gov.

There is additional information on OWBs at the DHS website: http://dhfs.wisconsin.gov/eh/HlthHaz/fs/waterstoves.htm.

For more information, contact Mary Geissler, Chippewa County Family Living Agent, at (715) 726-7950.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

October 22, 2008

Sykesville working on furnace ordinance
 


SYKESVILLE - Sykesville Borough Council took another step toward drafting an outdoor furnace ordinance Monday when the borough's solicitor, Mike Bogush, presented a rough draft of the ordinance to the council.
"I know you don't have any zoning or anything like that (in the borough) so you're going to want to look at that draft with an eye toward making changes," Bogush said.
Decisions about vent stack height and setback distance from other properties are going to be decisions to be made by the council.
When providing examples, Bogush mentioned the ideas of an outdoor furnace to be 25 feet away from the nearest abutting property line or 50 feet away from the nearest residential property which isn't serviced by it.
"Basically, the intention of most of these ordinances is to get that up high enough so it's not a nuisance to neighbors," Bogush said.
A firmly set portion of the ordinance outlines no material besides untreated wood, coal, and agricultural seeds in its natural state are to be burned in outdoor furnaces. Number 2 hearing oil may be burnt in an outdoor furnace as long as it is an outdoor heating oil furnace.
During the discussion, President Don Reid said to his knowledge there is not yet an outdoor furnace in the borough.
The council will review the ordinance and consider potential distances and heights to place within it.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

October 21, 2008

Wood heat rises again

High cost of oil and gas fuels a boom in wood stoves. But what is the cost to climate?

By Gregory M. Lamb| Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor/ October 21, 2008 edition

George and Judith Reilly own a big antique house on the main street of Brandon, Vt., a picturesque town on scenic Route 7. The house’s front parlor doubles as a gallery to display the fabric art Judith creates in her upstairs studio.

Last spring, when oil for the house’s furnace began to top $4 per gallon, Mr. Reilly did some quick calculating and decided he could save up to 50 percent on his heating cost this winter by installing a stove that burned sawdust pellets. Over the summer, he placed an order with first one, then another local dealer. But by October, both had failed to find him a stove. Finally, he discovered one on eBay. The only problem: Reilly had to drive his pickup truck from Vermont to Maryland to claim it. Last weekend, as nighttime temperatures dipped below freezing, he was installing his prize, which he hopes will be his main source of heat this winter.

Both traditional and pellet-burning wood stoves are in high demand as cold weather begins to grip the northern United States and Canada. Sales of wood stoves are up 55 percent so far this year over last, according to industry figures. And sales of wood pellet stoves are even hotter: up 135 percent over the same period last year.

But as people polish their stoves and admire their woodpiles, environmentalists and health officials are expressing concern that burning wood in old or poorly designed stoves could add significantly to air pollution. And although wood represents a local and renewable fuel source, its credentials as a “carbon neutral” fuel – not adding to global warming – are hazy at best.

Even the very cleanest-burning and best-maintained wood or pellet stoves release a much higher level of emissions than a typical oil furnace, a common heating fuel in the Northeastern US. Natural gas, the most popular heating fuel nationwide, burns even cleaner than oil.

Wood smoke “is a fairly toxic cocktail,” says Lisa Rector, a senior policy analyst for NESCAUM, a nonprofit group that advises eight Northeastern US states on air-pollution control issues. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), wood smoke contains a number of potent health hazards, including carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and fine particulates. The American Lung Association estimates that in some locales fireplaces and wood stoves are the source of 80 percent of the fine particulates found in the air.

Judging how polluting a particular wood stove is can be tricky. Since the early 1990s the EPA has mandated that new wood stoves emit no more than 7.5 grams of emissions per hour, though many models have been tested with much lower emissions. Stoves manufactured in the 1970s and ’80s emitted about 42 grams per hour, according to the Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association (HPBA), which represents wood stove manufacturers.

But how much pollution a stove emits also depends on what is being burned.

“A tree is not a tree is not a tree,” Ms. Rector says. “It is what it lives in.” Trees can pick up substances such as mercury, sulfur, or chlorine from the soil in which they grow. And if the wood is not properly seasoned or wet, combustion will be less complete. (See below.) Not only will the stove give off less heat, it will pollute more.

One concern this winter is that people may decide to fire up an old wood-burning stove. “We’re still getting calls from people who have these 30-year-old [wood stoves] that their uncle gave them,” says Bob Christensen, the owner of En-R-Gy Saver Inc. in Holliston, Mass., which sells six brands of wood and pellet stoves. His stove sales are up about 50 percent this year over last.

The poster child of wood-heat pollution is the outdoor boiler, a wood furnace located in a separate outbuilding that sends hot water through underground pipes to a home or business. Outdoor wood boilers can emit 206 times more pollution than an oil furnace, or about 3,000 to 5,000 times more than a natural gas furnace, Rector says. They are often a source of complaints from neighbors who don’t appreciate being bathed in smoke.

Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont have moved to set emissions standards on outdoor boilers. Manufacturers are getting the message, says Deidra Darsa, a spokeswoman for HPBA. “They have done an incredible job in turning their products around in the last year or so and come up with some very clean-burning products,” she says. The EPA is also engaged with outdoor boiler manufacturers to set up new emissions guidelines.

Because of its pollutants, wood-burning in general is most appropriate “at the urban fringe and beyond,” not in cities, which are already dealing with many other sources of air pollution, says John Gulland, cofounder of woodheat.org, a nonprofit website that aims to offer impartial information about firewood and wood-burning stoves.

Just like oil and gas, wood gives off carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases when burned. But it also offers some carbon-saving benefits that make judging its effects on global warming difficult.

“I like to call it ‘75 percent carbon neutral,’ ” Mr. Gulland says. While wood burning does release carbon dioxide and methane, advocates argue that the trees would do that anyway in the forest as they die, fall over, and decompose.

But only a portion of the CO2 from decomposition enters the atmosphere. Some remains in the soil. Meanwhile, forests absorb carbon dioxide, so maintaining forested areas that are harvested for wood is a carbon plus. And if the wood being burned is scrap from a sawmill, for example, then no additional trees are being felled and no additional carbon created.

The question can quickly get knotty.

“On a scale of carbon neutrality, it’s better than burning a fossil fuel, but it’s not the same as wind or solar,” Rector says. “It’s a very complicated question,” she says. “We still need to let the scientists figure it out.”

How to burn wood more cleanly

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has these recommendations for people who burn wood:

• Use a properly installed and vented EPA-certified wood stove.

• Season wood outdoors through the summer and for at least six months. Properly seasoned wood is darker, has cracks in the end grain, and sounds hollow when smacked against another piece of wood.

• Store wood outdoors, stacked neatly off the ground with the top covered.

• Use clean newspaper and dry kindling to start fires.

• Have the wood stove cleaned and inspected annually.

• Don’t burn household trash or cardboard. Plastics and colored inks on magazines, boxes, and wrappers give off toxic chemicals when burned.

• Never burn coated, painted, or pressure-treated wood, as it also releases toxic chemicals.

• Never burn ocean driftwood, plywood, particle board, or any wood with glue on or in it. They all release harmful chemicals when burned.

• Never burn wet, rotted, diseased, or moldy wood.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

October 20, 2008

Texas Township board approves wood-burner clause

by Kalamazoo Gazette staff
Monday October 20, 2008, 9:50 AM

TEXAS TOWNSHIP -- The Texas Township Board of Trustees approved a nuisance clause for its outdoor-wood-burner ordinance in a meeting last week.

The clause states that any two designated township employees and officials may suspend an outdoor-furnace permit if the furnace produces black or dark gray smoke for any continuous six-minute period or produces air contaminants detectable outside the property or emissions that cause damage to vegetation, property or human or animal health.

Any one of the designated employees and officials may reinstate the permit once the nuisance condition is remedied, the existing unit is upgraded to a cleaner-burning unit and reasonable assurance is given that the condition will not recur.

If a condition that has resulted in a suspension recurs, the furnace owner will be considered in violation of the outdoor-wood-burner ordinance.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

October 19, 2008

Wood-burner regulation discussions continue

Published: Sunday, October 19, 2008 4:17 AM EDT

Wood-burner regulation discussions continue.

Winter is around the corner, and that means more outdoor wood-burning activity, and more discussion about how to regulate the activities in Spring Brook and Jefferson Twps.

The wood-fired units emit smoke, which has become a problem for some residents. Officials since last winter have been discussing how to handle smoke complaints from residents while preserving the rights of wood-burning-unit owners.

While Spring Brook’s planning commission this year approved a draft ordinance to regulate the units, supervisors plan instead, by the end of the year, to include outdoor furnace guidelines in existing nuisance or burning ordinances, Supervisor Chairman Jack Flyte said Thursday.

The Jefferson Twp. supervisors discussed an ordinance for months, but Chairman Ike Butler said there are still no plans to pursue the issue.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

October 17, 2008

Howell council sharply limits outdoor and open burning

Exception: A patio wood-burning unit using clean wood
Friday, October 17, 2008
BY STEPHENIE KOEHN
News Special Writer

Howell residents who think they'd like to save on the heating bill by installing one of those pellet stoves they've been hearing about, can think again - at least if it has an outdoor boiler.

The Howell City Council on Monday night approved a new ordinance governing all outdoor burning and open burning within city limits.

In addition to prohibiting the installation or use of outdoor wood-fired or corn-fired boilers, the new ordinance bans all open burning and outdoor burning, including burning refuse, trees, logs, brush, stumps, leaves or other vegetative matter.

The ordinance came about, because of complaints by residents about the frequency with which some neighbors were having bonfires, making it unbearable for the rest of the neighborhood, said Council Member Thomas Malloy. Smoke from these open fires can pose health problems for people with asthma or other lung problems.

Howell Fire Marshal Les Rodwell said fire officials have been concerned for some time about safety issues as well, citing the example of one resident who installed a wood-burning boiler in his garage, which he was using to heat the interior of his home.

Anyone who decides to flout the law and burn leaves is responsible for all fire suppression costs and any other liability resulting from damage caused by a fire. Anyone violating any of the provisions of the ordinance - a civil infraction - also is subject to a fine.

But fire enthusiasts may take heart from another provision of the ordinance: A patio wood-burning unit, such as a "chiminea'' may be used as long is it burns only clean wood, not refuse, and is located at least 10 feet from any combustible material. It also must be constantly attended by an adult until the fire is extinguished and may not cause a nuisance to neighbors.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

October 16, 2008

Fort Edward meeting to address outdoor furnace limits The state Attorney General’s Office released a report in March on the issue detailing the health effects of the furnaces.

Board members in Fort Edward aren’t concerned about outdoor burners that are isolated from other property owners.

"I think for an agricultural area, having a wood furnace is a good idea," said Village Trustee Pete Williams.

He said the last time a village resident used an outdoor wood furnace, the smoke and particles given off by the appliance were detrimental to elderly people who lived nearby.

"Smoke was permeating their homes," Williams said. "The older people in that neighborhood were really having a tough time."

If the moratorium is approved, the village would likely use that time to craft new regulations for the furnaces.

"It’s a question of banning versus enforcement," said Village Attorney Matthew Fuller. "If you’re using them right, they work."

Full Article: CLICK HERE

October 16, 2008

Wood boilers a hot topic in Wilmington

HEATHER SACKETT, News Staff Writer

WILMINGTON — After hearing from 12 residents, all of whom spoke out against various aspects of Wilmington’s proposed wood boiler regulations, the town board decided to table the issue for now.

“I don’t think I’m comfortable voting on it tonight,” said board member Rarilee Conway.

About 30 people packed the Wilmington town hall Tuesday night for the public hearing.

According to the regulations drafted by the town board, outdoor wood boiler use would be allowed only between Sept. 1 and May 31 and, if the OWB is located within 100 to 300 feet of another residence, the smokestack must be higher than the peak of that residence, but not exceed 35 feet.

“The town is going to look like an industrial plant,” resident Dave Northrop said, referring to the smokestack requirement.

Northrop said he has had an outdoor wood boiler since 2001 and that he uses it to heat his domestic hot water, even in the summer.

“Nine months a year doesn’t make sense,” Nancy LeBlanc agreed. “Most people use it for hot water as well.”

Several residents compared OWBs to campfires at the Wilmington KOA campground, some going as far as to say it was “un-American” for the town board to “pick on one group” who use OWBs while ignoring those who burn wood by other methods.

“I know no matter what we do people aren’t going to be happy,” said Supervisor Randy Preston.

Preston said he believes there is a silent majority of people who are in favor of regulations, even if they didn’t attend the public hearing.

“We heard from only 12 people out of 1,100 that live in the town,” he said. “If it were up to me, we would have moved forward with it tonight. In hindsight, I wish we had done a moratorium.”

Outdoor wood boilers are touted as an alternative means of providing heat during a time when the price of oil is climbing. But they have also been criticized for contributing to poor air quality and causing health problems, especially when used incorrectly.

Several local municipalities, including the town of Jay and the village of Saranac Lake, are grappling with setting regulations. In September, Jay enacted a five-month moratorium on wood boiler permits. The town of Chesterfield has had regulations in place since May 2007.

In other town board news, according to Preston, Haselton Road will be closed beginning Monday, Oct. 20 for bridge repairs. It will remain closed until Dec. 1 at the earliest or Christmas at the latest, Preston said.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

October 16, 2008

Caution Urged for Outdoor Wood-Fired Boilers
Iowa Ag Connection - 10/16/2008

The high cost of petroleum-based fuels for home heating has Iowans looking at alternative sources. In both rural and residential areas, some Iowans have purchased or are considering outdoor wood-fired boilers (OWBs) or furnaces. DNR officials caution against burning any wood other than untreated, well-seasoned wood and advise that OWBs can be more polluting and less efficient than other home heating devices.

"Unlike residential wood burning stoves, OWBs are not required to meet federal emission standards," says Christine Paulson, an air specialist with the DNR Air Quality Bureau. "We've received a number of complaints about the OWBs, and our investigations have revealed that many of the concerns raised are valid. Because of the large fireboxes on the units, some people have jumped to the conclusion that anything can be burned in them."

OWBs are free-standing wood burning devices that heat water, which is then pumped to one or more structures to provide heat. They look like a small shed with a short smokestack on top. They may be used to heat homes and outbuildings, produce domestic hot water, heat hot tubs or provide heat to agricultural operations. OWBs are also called outdoor wood-fired hydronic heaters (OWHH).

Before buying an OWB, the DNR asks you to consider the possible health and environmental impact to your family, neighbors, pets and livestock, and to contact your county health department or city hall to see if OWBs are allowed.

Then, refrain from burning household garbage and debris in the OWB. Trash and debris may contain chemicals that are illegal to burn in such devices without an air permit. Burning such items releases toxic air pollutants, some of which are carcinogens.

"We had a case last spring where someone was burning railroad ties in his OWB," adds Paulson. "Railroad ties are treated with creosote, a probable carcinogen. Just handling railroad ties has been shown to cause skin rash and irritation. Imagine what it can be when vaporized and drawn deep into the lungs."

Even wood smoke from well seasoned hardwood contains fine particle pollution, carbon monoxide, and other pollutants, so it is important to release it through a stack well above roof lines so that children, people with lung and heart disease, and other sensitive groups are not exposed to it.

"We encourage consumers to choose the cleanest, most efficient models available, preferably EPA-certified units. Then operate and maintain the unit, whether it is new or one of the older models, according to manufacturers' instructions," emphasizes Paulson.

The DNR also recommends that OWB operators place the unit at least 500 feet from an adjoining property line, keep the doors of the unit closed unless loading or stoking the live fire, and install a vertical, unobstructed stack that is at least 5 feet taller than the roof line of nearby structures and residences. Never use propellants to start a fire and do not store them near an OWB. A child in Iowa recently died from burns linked to a propellant stored near an operating OWB.

A DNR OWB Fact Sheet with more information is available at www.iowacleanair.com/news/files/OWB_Fact_Sheet.doc. Information on EPA's OWB program, including information on EPA-certified models, is available at http://www.epa.gov/woodheaters/.

Questions or complaints regarding specific OWB or other wood heaters should be directed to appropriate DNR field offices. A map and contact information for the six DNR field offices is available at http://www.iowadnr.gov/fo/fomap.html or call (515) 242-5100. Those with questions or concerns within Polk County should call (515) 286-3351; or within Linn County call (319) 892-6000. Permit questions may be directed to the DNR Air Quality Bureau permit hotline at 1-877-247-4692.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

October 15, 2008

Village officials to discuss possible ban on outdoor wood-burning furnaces

October 14, 2008

Pottsville adopts furnace ordinance

BY STEPHEN J. PYTAK
STAFF WRITER
spytak@republicanherald.com
Published: Tuesday, October 14, 2008 4:15 AM EDT

Homeowners in Pottsville planning to hook up an outdoor wood-fired furnace will have to meet a set of strict regulations before getting a permit as a result of an ordinance city council unanimously approved Monday.

Meanwhile, owners of existing units will only be allowed to operate them from Sept. 1 to May 31 and will be required to follow manufacturers’ specifications, according to city solicitor Thomas J. “Tim” Pellish.

“We’re not banning them. We’re looking at manufacturers’ specifications and following safe practices,” Councilman Michael Halcovage said at Monday’s council meeting.

“It’s not so strict that people can’t put them in. But it does give low-income people in Pottsville less of an opportunity, people who can’t afford a big piece of property,” said Charles Smith Jr., who erected an outdoor wood furnace on his property on the 2100 block of Mahantongo Street in September.

Communities concerned about smokestacks and air pollution, including Girardville and Mechanicsville boroughs and Butler and Mahanoy townships, have developed similar ordinances. Last week, Orwigsburg Borough Council voted to advertise an ordinance to ban outdoor furnaces in the borough.

At the city council meeting, Smith said he didn’t understand why local municipalities have been making a big deal about them.

“I don’t think it should be that big of an issue considering everybody else is heating their homes with a pellet stove or a wood burner and everything else and shooting the smoke out of the chimney of their home. But now I have an independent structure which has an independent stove pipe that’s putting out the same emissions that are coming out of a house,” Smith said.

One of Smith’s neighbors, David Zerbe, said smoke trails from Smith’s outdoor furnace are finding their way into his yard.

“The smell of smoke is constant in our front and back yard,” Zerbe said. He presented photos of smoke in his back yard and said it was coming from Smith’s outdoor furnace.

New applicants will be required to situate their units 200 feet from any residence not on the same property or erect a smokestack two feet higher than the neighboring roof line. And they will only be allowed to operate their furnaces between Sept. 1 and May 31, according to Ordinance 768 of 2008.

The ordinance also contains a list of materials that may not be burned, including garbage, painted materials and construction or demolition debris.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

October 13, 2008

Brutus bans new outdoor furnaces

By Kathleen Barran/The Citizen

Monday, October 13, 2008 11:45 PM EDT

BRUTUS - No outdoor furnaces can be set up within the town of Brutus for the next six months as a moratorium was established on Monday by the town board, 4-1, with Jeffrey Hinman voting against.

The vote amends the town zoning law and establishes Local Law No. 5, the moratorium, which has no impact on existing systems.

Hinman had earlier said that maybe the whole town should not be included in the moratorium because the main concern was the effect of outdoor furnaces on the village, which has a high-density population.

Town clerk Mary Kae Brentlinger has 10 days to file the paperwork with the state; once the state receives it, the moratorium will go into effect. An enacted moratorium may be extended for another six months.

The moratorium allows the planning board to examine the issue and develop guidelines for outdoor furnace installation.

“Outdoor furnace” is defined as “any device, appliance, equipment apparatus or structure that is designed, intended and/or used to provide heat and/or hot water to any associated structure that operates by burning wood or any other fuel, including, but not limited to, paper pellets and agricultural products, is not located within the structure to be heated, and includes, but is not limited to, devices referred to as wood furnaces, outdoor boilers and outdoor stoves.”

The board acted on recommendation of the Joint Town of Brutus-Village of Weedsport Planning Board. It had identified public health and safety issues concerning outside furnaces that were raised by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and independent researchers. The joint planning board may hold special work sessions on the regulations.

The moratorium was considered at the last board meeting, but the town waited for a response from the county planning board, which sent a letter saying it had no opinion because the issue wasn't intermunicipal.

In a letter to The Citizen, Jim Sullivan, planning board member, clarified that “Brutus Code Enforcement and Zoning Board of Appeals should be contacted to review and comment on any draft the Joint Planning Board presents, prior to submission for the Brutus Town Board to act on.”

He also said laws in other towns will be reviewed for comparison, with the most recent being Lysander in Onondaga County.

At the last meeting, James Hotaling, town supervisor, said he hoped the ordinance would be in place by mid-December or January.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

October 13, 2008 (video)

House Fire in the Town of Rutland (OWB: Source of Fire)

WWNY TV 7

October 13, 2008

Firefighters in the Town of Rutland were back on the scene of a house fire this morning, after the pile of ash and rubble rekindled.

Officials say the fire started at around 10 p.m. last night at the Bill Hickox residence on Hickox Road.

Mr. Hickox was home when the blaze started and told firefighters he heard a loud bang and noticed the flames.

Investigators are focusing on an outdoor wood furnace, but would not confirm what caused the fire.

No one was hurt.

Watch our report:

Full Article: CLICK HERE

October 11, 2008

Outdoor wood boilers stir the pot

GHS
Posted Oct 11, 2008 @ 11:39 PM
 
They dot the New England countryside as boxes of contradictions.

Both a cost-saving heating measure and neighborhood nuisance, alternative energy source and environmental pollutant, outdoor wood boilers produce a type of non-traditional heat that the green community has yet to warm to.

Seen more in rural communities, some towns like Westborough have outlawed the furnaces, citing environmental concerns. The furnaces typically have short smokestacks that emit plumes of particulates that are linked to health problems, to say nothing of community complaints.

"The next thing you know your neighbors are asking you to paint their house and they can't open their windows," said Barbara Christensen, manager of the En-R-Gy Saver Inc. in Holliston, which does not sell the shed-like heaters.

In Milford, the Board of Health approved a permitting process specific to the furnaces last January, complete with setback and chimney stack height requirements.

Milford Building Commissioner Anthony DeLuca discourages town residents from switching to the furnaces.

"We don't have any farm country," he said.

For some, however, the heaters offer a welcome reprieve from fluctuating petroleum prices.

While politicians and social service leaders nervously eye the oncoming winter, "alternative energy" might be the buzzword of the season. The federal government recently approved $163 million to help Massachusetts low-income families pay for heat.

With America's oil addiction leaving consumers at the mercy of foreign petroleum magnates, Northborough resident Philip Webber decided to have an outdoor wood furnace installed on his one-acre lot three winters ago.

"We just decided enough's enough. I have no way of predicting the price of oil and here was a way to get rid of that," said Webber.

Webber gets his wood free from companies who have no need for stumps and knot-riddled branches. He chops it up and loads the furnace once every day during the wintertime.

While the boilers represent a commitment of time and money the structures can cost up to $10,000 and the buyer has to have access to a wood supply and load the furnace daily the investment can pay off.

When he made his decision to buy the outdoor heater, Webber thought it would take him four years to break even on the investment and that estimate was based on 2005 oil prices.

As of last Thursday, he had yet to fire it up this season.

Webber, a 67-year-old retiree, admits the furnaces are controversial.

He noted there were no problems in the cold weather because, "most people are inside but I shut it down in the summer because it bothered some of the neighbors."

He is not alone in this realization.

A woman answering the phone at one Westborough home that uses such a furnace, which was grandfathered into the town's laws after its ban went into effect, said last week, "We really have nothing to say. We've had enough of this town."

Mo Tougas has an outdoor wood furnace on his 100-acre Northborough farm. He said "it was just logical," to have the furnace because of all the wood available on the farm. He added a 30-foot stack to help with the smoke.

Federal and state recommendations appear to be ushering in a greener era for the heaters.

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection is drafting statewide regulations that would include emission standards for the boilers, promoting the manufacture of cleaner, more efficient models that are less likely to cause neighborhood problems.

"We'll issue the final draft soon," said EPA spokesman Joe Ferson.

He did not say how soon "soon" would be.

Northborough, meanwhile, has a moratorium on the structures as it awaits the state regulations.

Other communities, like Framingham, do not have outdoor furnace ordinances, but the structures still have to abide by the various setbacks and other zoning requirements.

Marlborough's city bylaws are also silent on the matter. City Building Commissioner Stephen Reid said he is aware of one furnace in Marlborough, while Framingham officials were not aware of any there.

On the federal level, the Environmental Protection Agency is encouraging the industry to make the heaters more efficient. The agency tags units that meet an emissions standard that is 70 percent cleaner than traditional models 6/10ths of a pound of fine particulate matter per million BTUs, said Alison Davis, EPA representative.

"You have to look for the hang tags if you're going to buy one of these," she said.

Michael Kuehner, vice president of Greenwood Technologies Inc. a West Coast-based company that sells units in the Northeast, acknowledged the industry is moving toward a more efficient and greener production.

"Historically it's been the Wild West, people building these things out of their garage and whatnot," he said.

Traditional outdoor wood heaters worked at a 30 percent to 35 percent energy efficiency rate. Now, heaters are being produced with a 70 percent to 85 percent energy efficiency rate, resulting in less wood burned and less smoke, said Kuehner.

The demand for the furnaces is there, said Kuehner. He mentioned his business has grown by 400 percent in the past year.

(Dan McDonald can be reached at 508-626-4416 or at dmcdonal@cnc.com.)

Full Article: CLICK HERE

October 10, 2008

Redstone Township toll road blasting to end soon (OWBs mentioned)

October 10, 2008

Remember That Outdoor Wood-fired Boilers Should Be Purchased And Intalled Conscientiously, Say Colorado Health Officials

 The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment once again is reminding the public that outdoor wood-fired boilers, which are gaining popularity as an alternative residential energy source, are subject to state air quality regulations and should be purchased and installed conscientiously.

"These devices are subject to opacity regulations, which govern the thickness of smoke that is generated," said Kirsten King, who manages the Stationary Sources Program for the department's Air Pollution Control Division. "It is important that consumers do their homework before purchasing one of these devices. Be certain that the manufacturer is reputable, that the device is installed properly, and that it is properly and regularly maintained."

Outdoor wood-fired boilers are wood-fired water heaters that are located outdoors and are separated from the home or building being heated. At first glance, they look like outdoor sheds with smokestacks.

Fires in the boilers' large fire boxes heat water that is circulated into the home through underground pipes. The energy may be used to heat houses, shops, domestic hot water, greenhouses, swimming pools and spas.

Since last year, Colorado retailers have seen a surge in the purchase and installation of outdoor wood-fired boilers as an alternative to more traditional natural gas-fired furnaces and other devices as home heating sources.

One reason for the growing popularity of the boilers is the availability of inexpensive and/or free wood to stoke them - a result of the mountain pine beetle infestation in North-Central Colorado and from other forest restoration and wildfire mitigation activities occurring throughout the state.

However, the devices can be a significant source of air pollutant emissions.

"We receive complaints every year about these devices," King said. "They can really generate a lot of smoke and impact an entire neighborhood. Air quality in the immediate area can be significantly reduced."

King emphasized that consumers have options when considering an outdoor wood-fired boiler. While there are a number of boiler manufacturers, only a handful utilize cleaner-burning technology. Most of the boilers employ primitive combustion technology. When the water circulating through the furnace reaches a certain temperature, the air supply to the fire is cut off, cooling the fire so the water will not overheat. The furnace operates in this "idle" mode until the water temperature hits a lower temperature and the air supply is re-established. This results in poor combustion and potentially heavy smoke.

Most of the smoke emitted is fine condensed organic material that does not burn under cool, oxygen-starved conditions. The choice of wood also can have an impact how much smoke the boilers generate.

For example, green wood full of moisture causes poor combustion. Wood from an outdoor winter woodpile also may be very cold when loaded into a boiler, causing less efficient fires. Wood from urban sources (demolition and/or construction debris) should not be used as it may include paints, glues or other contaminants that exacerbate the pollution potential.

Outdoor wood-fired boilers are subject to provisions of Colorado Air Quality Control Commission Regulation No. 1, which details emissions controls for particulate matter, smoke, carbon monoxide and sulfur oxides. Regulation No. 1 sets a 20 percent opacity standard for such devices.

If found to be in violation of the opacity standard, the owner or operator of the device may be subject to an enforcement action from the Air Pollution Control Division that could result in a fine.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment urges residents to educate themselves regarding outdoor wood-fired boilers. Information is available on-line through sites like http://www.woodheat.org and a variety of state-run sites.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

October 9, 2008

Neighbors feud over outdoor wood boiler

Posted by Danielle Quisenberry | Jackson Citizen Patriot October 09, 2008 08:29AM

After years of battling with his wood-burning neighbor, Roger Soldano says he is at last free of the cloud of smoke that covered his property for two heating seasons.

"It is just so nice to be able to breathe clean air," said Soldano, who lives off Hankerd Road near Mud Lake in Henrietta Township.

Jackson County Circuit Judge Chad Schmucker last week ordered Richard Cady to remove or make inoperable an outdoor wood boiler Cady had used since September 2006 to heat his home.

Wood boilers, increasingly popular in rural areas as energy costs rise, transfer heat through water lines from an outside structure to a home for both space and water heating. They are inexpensive alternatives to gas or propane heat, but inefficient polluters, experts say, and municipalities locally and elsewhere are enacting regulations.

The ruling seems to back regulators and could have implications on future boiler installations, said Mike Maillard, district engineer in the Jackson office of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality's Air Quality Division.

The judge also is prohibiting Cady from incinerating trash, debris and other materials in backyard burn barrels.

Cady had to — and did — comply with the preliminary injunction by Monday. It prohibits burning until the matter is settled before or after a trial scheduled for Feb. 25.

Cady declined to comment, saying it is because the case is pending.

"Roger and Mary Soldano and others will suffer irreparable harm from smoke and odors from such practices ... in the form of adverse effects on their health and loss of use and enjoyment of their property," Schmucker wrote in the Sept. 30 order.

In July, Jackson County Health Officer Ted Westmeier informed Cady his wood boiler, which sat about 180 feet downwind from Soldano's house, was a public health hazard.

Exposure to such a concentration of small particles found in the stove's emissions is associated with heart disease, stroke and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to a Michigan Department of Community Health memo.

The health department tested on Soldano's property after he was hospitalized in March with chest tightness and shortness of breath, court records said.

Roger and Mary Soldano have suffered "significant respiratory problems," Roger Soldano said. "It's like having four diesel trucks next to your home."

In court filings, Cady called Soldano a "dictator" and the "neighborhood's bully."

Cady wrote that the boiler, a Woodmaster 4400 produced by Northwest Manufacturing in Red Lake Falls, Minn., is a tested appliance that passed an inspection.

When Cady bought the stove, there were no ordinances in Henrietta Township to regulate it. A unit now may not be constructed less than 300 feet from property lines, according to a new ordinance.

Other townships, including Liberty, Blackman and Hanover, have enacted similar ordinances, Maillard said.

Some jurisdictions, such as Jonesville and Coldwater, have banned them.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

October 9, 2008

Litchfield To Restrict Outdoor Boiler Users
by Kyle Herschelman

After last Thursday’s marathon committee meetings, which lasted almost three hours, the Litchfield City Council made it out of Tuesday’s full council meeting in just 28 minutes.

Many of the items on the agenda made it through with little or no discussion, with the bulk of the talk coming during Thursday’s meeting.

A motion to set restrictions on outdoor wood-fired boilers, or OWBs, was one of the motions to pique the council’s interest.

Alderman Harold Ellinger motioned to change the proposed ordinance to a new set of restrictions determined in committee meetings. This amendment would change the distance the boilers must be away from residential dwellings from 75 to 50 feet and change the minimum height of the stack pipe from two feet above the peak of the home owner’s roof to 14 feet high.

Alderman Gene Cailey disagreed with the amendment, saying if the boiler’s stack is only 14 feet tall, and the owner has a neighbor with a two story house, then the smoke would go directly into the neighbor’s second floor.

Alderman Ellinger stated that he thought a stack two feet taller than the peak of the roof would look silly to which Cailey replied that how it looked wasn’t the point, to do what’s best was.

Alderman Ellinger went on to say that he wasn’t for either option but he felt that the amendment was the better of the two.

With discussion finished, the aldermen split 4-4 in voting on the amendment. Mayor Tom Jones cast the deciding no vote against the amendment.

With the amendment defeated, the council nearly split on the original motion (the 75 feet away and minimum height of two feet over the roof peak restrictions), voting 5-3 with Ellinger, Rovey and Jarman voting no.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

October 9, 2008

Mechanicsville ordinance requires 5 acres for new outdoor furnaces

MECHANICSVILLE — Borough council Wednesday unanimously approved an “Exterior Furnace Ordinance” that contains rules for new installations, permitting these home heating devices only on properties measuring a minimum of five acres.

BY STEPHEN J. PYTAK
STAFF WRITER
spytak@republicanherald.com
Published: Thursday, October 9, 2008 4:16 AM EDT
 MECHANICSVILLE — Borough council Wednesday unanimously approved an “Exterior Furnace Ordinance” that contains rules for new installations, permitting these home heating devices only on properties measuring a minimum of five acres.

Kenneth Fisher Jr., a borough man who runs two exterior furnaces on his family’s property, wasn’t sure if there were any residential properties in the borough that were five acres.

“So (new installations of) wood burners are going to be banned completely in the borough?” Fisher asked council.

“It would appear so,” said council President Paul Gill at Wednesday’s meeting at Mechanicsville Hose Company.

Borough solicitor William L.J. Burke wasn’t certain whether any residential properties in Mechanicsville were situated on five acres.

“It’s a landlocked borough,” Burke said.

The borough decided to adopt regulations in case residents decide to purchase exterior furnaces as a cost-saving alternative to heating oil this winter, Burke said.

Communities concerned about smokestacks and air pollution, including Girardville borough and Butler and Mahanoy townships, have developed ordinances like these. On Wednesday, Orwigsburg borough council voted to advertise an ordinance to ban outdoor furnaces in the borough. On Monday, Pottsville city council will decide whether to adopt an ordinance to regulate outdoor furnaces.

Mechanicsville’s ordinance contains regulations for owners of existing outdoor burners and property owners looking to purchase them. Restrictions on new installations include the time of year they can be used: between Oct. 1 and April 30. They must also have a 6-inch-deep permanent, reinforced cement pad and a smokestack 4 feet higher than any structure 100 feet from the furnace, according to the law.

Fisher, owner of Fisher Tree Service, Mechanicsville, said he’s been using two outdoor, wood-burning furnaces for three years to heat three homes on his family’s one-acre property between the 1000 block of Port Carbon Street and the 100 block of Park Street.

Fisher will only be subject to “minor regulations,” including meeting emission standards required by the Environmental Protection Agency and operating his furnaces according to manufacturer’s instructions, Burke said.

In other matters, council decided to start holding quarterly workshop sessions in 2009. They will be held in January, April, July and October at 7 p.m. every fourth Wednesday, Burke said.

Meanwhile, the borough and Port Carbon are planning to schedule a public meeting at the Port Carbon Municipal Building this month to discuss hiring a trash hauler to serve both municipalities, Burke said.

The boroughs have developed an intermunicipal agreement for trash hauling service, have shared the cost of advertising for bids and will review those bids this month. The meeting date will be advertised, Burke said.
Full Article: CLICK HERE

October 8, 2008

Lebanon News
By Andrea Rose

Wood boiler rule change

A public hearing will be held Thursday, Oct. 16 at 10 a.m. at the Holiday Inn in Augusta to discuss proposed changes to wood boiler rules. Some of the proposals include requirements for outdoor pellet boilers, such as setbacks from neighboring properties and minimum stack height and a replacement and a buy back program to remove nuisance outdoor wood boilers that were installed prior to Feb. 1, Rep. Joan Nass said in a recent newsletter.

According to Nass, the proposed rule includes criteria for determining whether an outdoor wood boiler constitutes a nuisance condition or a threat to public health or safety; if it is eligible for participation in the buy back program; compensation and amounts; and procedures for certification and verification of removal and possible replacement of eligible outdoor wood boilers.

The complete draft of the proposed rules are available online at www.maine.gov/dep/air/regulations/proposed.htm.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

October 7, 2008

Ligonier OKs ordinance limiting outdoor fuel-burners

By A.J. Panian
TRIBUNE REVIEW
Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Ligonier Council on Monday unanimously voted to approve an ordinance regulating the use of outdoor fuel-burning appliances by borough residents in accordance with state and federal standards.

Borough Solicitor George V. Welty was quick to clarify that the move was not intended to ban use of any furnace, stove or boiler designed and constructed to burn oil, wood, coal or other fuels manufactured for placement outdoors for the heating of the living area of a structure.

Considering the dimensions of a majority of properties in the 2.2-square-mile municipality, one ordinance provision makes use of any such appliances by homeowners virtually impossible.

Such appliances cannot be located less than 150 feet from any property line or structure not occupied or directly controlled by the owner of the proposed appliance, the ordinance states.

"With a majority of borough properties being 50- to 60-foot-wide lots, this ordinance will make it difficult for those intending to use outdoor burners to do so," Welty said. "These types of appliances are better used on 50- to 100-acre farms than in densely populated areas like this borough."

Other statutes of the borough law require residents to acquire a building permit from the zoning office prior to installing such appliances and to comply with required specifications and limitations on the kinds of fuel qualified for burning. These include natural wood, coal, heating oil, natural gas or kerosene permitted in writing by the manufacturer of a product. All other fuel types are prohibited.

Jon C. Balson, chief of the Uniform Construction Code division of State Department of Labor and Industry, informed borough council via letter earlier this year that the ordinance amending the borough code equals or exceeds state and Environmental Protection Agency requirements.

Nevertheless, borough resident Betty Marky of East Main Street lamented that the ordinance did not prohibit use of the appliances altogether.

"I was actually hoping this activity would have been banned in the borough," said Marky, 81, adding that outdoor burning of various materials has occurred for some time near her home. "This is better than nothing, but we'll see where it goes from here."

The process of considering the ordinance began in April when a borough resident inquired of council President Dale Show about the legality of installing such an appliance. Show said yesterday that person has not sought further information on such a move.

Marky fretted that the effectiveness of the ordinance will rely on proper enforcement. Borough police Chief John Berger told her to report any continued outdoor burning in her area and the issue would be investigated.

Those violating the ordinance and its total of 21 regulations for new and existing outdoor fuel-burning appliances could face a $500 fine upon conviction before District Judge Denise S. Thiel.

Show said some properties in the northern and western portions of the borough may harbor the dimensions necessary to operate such devices legally.

"Whether residents do it there or not remains to be seen," Show said.

 

A.J. Panian can be reached at apanian@tribweb.com.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

October 6, 2008

Elizabethtown weighing rules on outdoor wood burners

By ALVIN REINER
Staff Writer

Agitation growing as dozens sign petition

banning outdoor devices

ELIZABETHTOWN -- The Elizabethtown Town Council recently heard from citizens concerned about its proposed law governing outdoor wood-burning devices.

After Supervisor Noel Merrihew noted that no decision would be made that evening, a petition with 59 signatures asking for the banning of any new wood-burning devices and the phasing out of existing outdoor wood boilers was presented by Evelyn Hatch.

She read from a New York Times article which, among other statistics, stated that one outdoor furnace pollutes the equivalent of 45 cars during the same time period.

"My feeling is the Town Board has the responsibility to ban all wood boilers," she said.

Maggie Bartley checked on the two townships that Elizabethtown is basing its proposed ordinance upon, Champion and Queensbury, and found they had very limited areas where the boilers were allowed.

"We're taking a template from rural areas and making it fit residential," she said. "A few people may save money, but it affects everybody."

She likened it to putting sewage into the Boquet River and trash into the forest.

"I take issue with the proposal and the 25-foot setback," said Ron Testa. "There's no consideration for elevation changes from one house to the next."

He pointed out that the hamlet is in a valley and thus would hold particulate matter and look like pre-World War II Pittsburgh.

Testa inquired as to who would police the burning. Merrihew said it would be the code-enforcement officer.

Susan Willnus indicated she had been a nurse and protector of children against environmental hazards. She presented articles that listed the outdoor boilers as being of dangerous design and causing cancer, respiratory and cardiac problems.

"Your job is to protect this community," Willnus said. "Two hundred feet is nothing. The smoke will hang here in the valley. I would not come here to shop. I would ban them not just in the hamlet but the whole town."

John Deming questioned whether the Town Council had received complaints, as he has one wood boiler by his house and another at his business in the hamlet.

Merrihew responded that there were none.

"Is there any alternative equal-cost heating? Are any board members aware of different types, such as forced air?" inquired Deming.

"I've heard quite a bit of scare tactics. It's (the proposed law) not real clear about how pre-existing would be addressed. This could drive up the legal costs."

Deming also mentioned that the smell from oil-burning stoves was "not pleasant."

The Adirondack Council submitted a letter by Conservation Director John Davis expressing concerns.

"The zoning regulation proposed by Elizabethtown is wholly inadequate," the letter said. "These regulations are less stringent than those offered as best practices by the manufacturers themselves."

The letter gives specifics on the particulate matter, which includes dioxin, carbon monoxide, hydrochloric acid, formaldehyde and other toxins.

"The council suggests Elizabethtown enact a moratorium on the installation of any new OWBs," the Adirondack Council said.

Merrihew said the town has three choices: ignore, accept or ban outdoor wood boilers.

"We have asked the state and DEC for templates, but they are months and months away," he said.

The issue will be discussed more at the next Town Council meeting, set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 21, at the Town Hall.

rondackrambler@yahoo.com

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

October 5, 2008

Outdoor furnaces a burning issue

By Richard Robbins
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Sunday, October 5, 2008

Paul Laposky says smoke sometimes wafts into his house.

The Ligonier Township resident blames his neighbor's outdoor wood-burning furnace.

"My eyes get red. I cough. I'm irritable. In a few years, I may move out of the house," he said.

On the first day the furnace was used, Laposky said, the smoke blanketed his Waterford residence. "I got my whole family out of the house. I thought it was a fire," he said.

As conventional heating costs have gone up, so have sales of outdoor wood-burning furnaces. Furnace owners say they have halved their heating bills. But neighbors complain of lung-clogging smoke, and scientists cite the presence of toxins such as dioxin, arsenic and formaldehyde.

Municipalities have been squeezed by both sides in the dispute.

Housed in what resemble storage sheds and connected to homes by underground systems that convert heat into pipe-conveyed steam, the furnaces are wonders of efficiency, advocates say. Three cords of wood, at $500, can warm an entire house for a year.

Cheaper yet is access to free wood -- for instance, timber on a furnace-owner's property.

James Durkos of Somerset County said he was spending $3,000 a year to heat his Confluence home before installing a wood furnace six years ago.

Plummeting heating bills now have him crowing: "They can save you a lot of money."

Others question whether the benefits are worth it.

Alarmed at the possible influx of outdoor furnaces, Ligonier Borough Council is expected to vote Monday on an ordinance banning them.

Council President Dale Show noted three Ligonier residents have spoken to him about the proposed ordinance. All favor the ban.

The densely populated borough is not a good fit for the furnaces, Councilman Buddy Helterbran said.

"I've seen some of these in operation in wide open spaces," Helterbran said. "They do put out a good deal of smoke."

Helterbran said Ligonier faces "a problem with the height of the chimney and the size of the property" furnace manufacturers recommend -- "about 2 feet above the ridge of the closest house and 100 feet away from that house."

If Ligonier enacts a ban, it will be the exception. Not one Westmoreland County municipality has banned or restricted the furnaces.

Because most of Allegheny County is urban or suburban, the furnaces are not suitable for use in most areas, county Department of Health spokesman Guillermo Cole said. The county does not ban the use of furnaces.

Cole said the furnaces are becoming more popular, as measured by the number of complaints the department has received: five in the past two to three years.

"When we do get a complaint, we inspect and investigate," Cole said. The department measures the visible "density of smoke," or its "opacity."

The minimum amount of smoke for a warning is 20 percent opacity for three minutes of any 60-minute period. A violation occurs at 60 percent opacity for any length of time.

Of the five complaints lodged by neighbors, one elicited a warning. The Elizabeth Township furnace owner "chose to shut down his burner," Cole said. "He couldn't meet the smoke requirements."

A boon for business

Jim Marsh, owner of Woodwise Heating of Acme, said his sales are up 75 percent over last year.

Ed Larson, of Larson's Wood Heat of Washington, said the furnaces are selling at double the pace of recent years: 19 so far in 2008.

Both men said the demand began early this year as a result of the rising cost of conventional home-heating fuels.

Marsh and Larson said neighborhoods where homes are tightly packed pose the problem of smoke and the difficulty of raising smokestacks above nearby roof levels, well beyond the standard issue 4-foot-high stacks.

In rural communities, they said, most smoke problems can be eliminated by the use of dry, seasoned wood.

But scientists say even top-grade burning-wood poses health risks.

"Scientific studies show that wood smoke contains dozens of toxic chemicals that are linked to heart attacks, cancer, lung disease and other serious health problems," John M. Balbus, chief health scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund, said in a recent statement.

The American Lung Association said wood smoke poses a particular threat to people with asthma and chronic pulmonary disease and should be avoided by anyone with lung disease.

One ban rescinded

Still, the furnaces have passionate defenders.

Confluence Borough Council rescinded the mayor's ban on outside furnaces.

Council President John Tressler said wood-burners reflect a "traditional" attitude. "When I was a kid, everybody had a coal furnace," he said.

Durkos, who said he bought one to lower dependence on foreign energy sources, scoffed at the notion that wood-burners bother anyone.

He said he and his neighbors live next to campgrounds where campers "all burn wood all summer."

"If I were living in Mt. Lebanon, it would be a different matter. This is a rural area."

Supervisors in Jefferson Township, Somerset County, faced with angry protests, issued regulations in April requiring that chimneys rise to 20 feet, if necessary, and that furnaces be placed at least 200 feet from the nearest house.

Supervisor Tom Kerila said he doesn't begrudge "people wanting to heat their homes cheaper."

"Every president talks about being independent of foreign oil," Kerila said. "The furnaces are peoples' answer to the problem."

Keith Whipkey, a Ligonier Township supervisor, conceded the furnaces "are a problem for some people," but not in the countryside.

Opposed to a ban or regulations, Whipkey said, "This all comes down to neighbors acting like neighbors and doing common-sense things" to keep smoke away from nearby houses.

 

Richard Robbins can be reached at rrobbins@tribweb.com or 724-836-5660

Full Article: CLICK HERE

October 4, 2008

Borough suggests ordinance regulating outdoor furnaces

MECHANICSVILLE — The borough has proposed an ordinance to regulate exterior furnaces, including two outdoor wood burners that Ken Fisher Jr. uses to heat three homes.

BY STEPHEN J. PYTAK
STAFF WRITER
spytak@republicanherald.com
Published: Saturday, October 4, 2008 4:19 AM EDT
MECHANICSVILLE — The borough has proposed an ordinance to regulate exterior furnaces, including two outdoor wood burners that Ken Fisher Jr. uses to heat three homes.

Fisher feared one of the restrictions, stating that homeowners can only use these furnaces from Oct. 1 through April 30, would apply to him.

“It won’t,” borough solicitor William L.J. Burke said.

The proposal, which the borough council will vote to adopt at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Mechanicsville Hose Company, contains regulations for owners of existing outdoor burners and for property owners who purchase them after the enactment of the ordinance.

With the troubled economy promising high heating bills this winter, some homeowners view outdoor furnaces as cost-saving alternatives to heating oil. Communities concerned about smokestacks and air pollution have been developing ordinances to govern them.

In recent months, municipalities, including Girardville borough and Butler and Mahanoy townships, have approved ordinances. Pottsville council members are also planning to vote on an ordinance in October, according to municipal officials.

Mechanicsville Councilwoman Cindy L. Bohr said there were two reasons why the council took steps to propose this ordinance.

First, when council heard other municipalities, including Pottsville, were looking into developing these ordinances, it decided to do the same.

“We just wanted to protect other residents from any more of them going in,” Bohr said, adding that, as far as she knows, no other residents are planning to install outdoor furnaces.

Second, she said there have been complaints about smoky odors from Fisher’s property. “He’s grandfathered in, so there’s nothing we can do about his,” Bohr said.

Councilman Charles Searle said the same when contacted this week, but would not elaborate. “If you come to the council meeting, we’ll answer any questions for you,” Searle said.

Fisher, owner of Fisher Tree Service, Mechanicsville, said he’s been using two outdoor, wood-burning furnaces to heat three homes on his family’s one-acre property between the 1000 block of Port Carbon Street and the 100 block of Park Street for three years.

An outdoor wood furnace heats water, which is piped underground to the building it heats through radiators or into a hot-air system, Fisher said.

Fisher said he recalled a few complaints when he installed the systems, but none since then.

Mechanicsville’s proposed “Exterior Furnace Ordinance” states its aim is “to protect the public health, safety and general welfare from excessive smoke pollution, soot contamination, other toxic air pollutants and offensive odors emanating from exterior furnaces fueled by wood, coal, corn and certain other types of fuels.”

It will regulate new installations with a series of restrictions, which include their location. They are only permitted on parcels no less than five acres and not less than 50 feet from the nearest property line. They also must have a 6-inch thick permanent, reinforced cement pad, and a smokestack 4 feet higher than any structure 100 feet from the furnace.

Fuels permitted for combustion are limited to natural gas, propane, home heating oil, coal or wood. And new installations can only be operated between Oct. 1 through April 30, according to the draft of the ordinance.

Property owners who are already using furnaces like these will have to follow “minor regulations,” Burke said.

They include meeting emissions standards required by the federal Environmental Protection Agency and operating the furnaces according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Violators will face penalties between $500 and $1,500 per violation, but each day a problem continues can be considered a separate violation, according to the proposed ordinance.


Full Article: CLICK HERE

October 2, 2008

Two Tusten moratoriums

Seismic testing and outdoor furnaces

By FRITZ MAYER

NARROWSBURG, NY — The Tusten Town Board unanimously voted to impose moratoriums on two separate matters after public hearings on September 29.

On a separate matter, the board also voted for a three-month moratorium on the installation of outdoor furnaces that burn either wood or coal. The moratorium does not affect the whole town, but is limited to the Flats, the downtown area and the commercial area by Pecks Market.

The moratorium was suggested by code enforcement officer Dave Sparling, who said that many outdoor furnaces, especially older ones, spew particulate matter into the air that is 10 times greater than the particulate matter created by woodstoves with catalytic converters.

Glenn Halloran, a farmer who also sells outdoor furnaces, said that there were new furnaces available that, when installed according to manufacturers’ specifications, are very clean and would pose no health or safety threat to neighbors.

Johnson and Sparling agreed that there are new outdoor furnaces that are clean and efficient, but Tusten has no regulations regarding outdoor furnaces at present and, thus, no way of ensuring that any that are installed would be the cleanest and safest available.

During the moratorium, the board will study the issue, look at regulations in place in the towns of Delaware and Neversink and come up with regulations for Tusten.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

October 1, 2008

Peru bans wood boilers from hamlet

By JEFF MEYERS
Staff Writer
October 01, 2008 09:59 am

PERU — Peru officials have passed a law regulating the use of outdoor wood boilers throughout the community.
Following several months of research, discussions and revisions, the Town Council finally approved the legislation during a recent meeting. The law sets several town-wide restrictions and permit regulations for both new and existing wood boilers.
“I have just finished reviewing the law, and I am very impressed with what the town board has done,” said Peru Codes Enforcement Officer Paul Blaine. “They’ve done a lot of work on this, and it appears to thoroughly cover the issue.”

BANNED IN HAMLET
The law restricts wood boilers from the hamlet and from within 750 feet of schools and town-operated parks, as well as a few other specifically zoned areas.
Existing boilers within those districts must be removed.
One wood-boiler owner from the hamlet has already removed his boiler and has applied for a permit to install a more efficient heating system, Blaine noted.

PERMITS ELSEWHERE
In other parts of the town where the devices are allowed, residents wishing to install new boilers must go through a permitting process and site review. They must meet guidelines for minimum smokestack height and for locating the equipment to have the least impact on the neighborhood.
A lot of the regulations will depend on the type of wood boiler being installed, Blaine said.
“The town board tried to accommodate for cleaner-burning stoves that have lower emissions and are more efficient,” Blaine said, noting that the newer stoves being manufactured today are much more efficient than some of the models in use.
Owners of existing boilers must also submit an permit application by Dec. 22 and must meet the requirements stipulated in the law, Blaine added, including a proof-of-purchase date.
Owners will be restricted from using the boilers during June, July and August.
Boilers cannot be connected to any commercial enterprises, Blaine noted.

E-mail Jeff Meyers at:
jmeyers@pressrepublican.com

Full Article: CLICK HERE

September 28, 2008 (Opinion)

Regulate boilers

Published Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sept. 22, 2008

To the editor:

I refer to the article in Sunday’s paper about harsher air pollution limits. The discussion centered on the boundaries of the area that must be monitored. The article went on to say that a plan must be submitted in 2012. I think this discussion about boundaries is misplaced.

The pollution concern is driven by the rapid increase in the number of outdoor wood burners homeowners are installing in response to escalating cost of heating oil. Unless something is done more quickly, the Fairbanks community will have an air pollution problem that will be difficult to reverse.

I had occasion to visit a number of outdoor wood burner vendors this past spring, and I found a wide variety of designs. On one end of the spectrum were those burners with convective draft air and with a firebox formed by the surrounding water jacket. The combustion chamber would not reach a high enough temperature to completely burn the particulates and gases. These units would be heavily polluting. At the other end of the spectrum are boilers with ceramic-lined fireboxes with forced air draft. The combustion chamber in these units reaches high temperatures, resulting in complete combustion of the gases and particulates. These units will contribute very little pollution. I understand that some of these units carry EPA certification.

Sunday’s article mentions that some communities have banned the use of less efficient wood stoves. It seems as if this borough could take a similar approach and allow only the sale of EPA-certified outdoor wood boilers within the borough. No matter what happens in the drawn-out attainment boundary controversy, the Fairbanks community will have gotten a big jump on the problem of meeting air quality standards.

September 26, 2008

North Heidelberg ordinance would regulate outdoor wood-burning stoves

By Rebecca VanderMeulen

The North Heidelberg Township supervisors plan to vote Oct. 22 on an ordinance that would regulate outdoor wood-burning furnaces for home heating.

The proposed ordinance that the supervisors discussed Wednesday night would require the furnaces to have chimneys and prohibit them in as-yet unspecified zoning districts. The furnaces also would have to be inspected.

Background: Last summer, a resident complained about a neighbor's wood-burning furnace, which did not have a chimney.
 

The proposed ordinance would ensure such furnaces are properly installed, supervisors Chairman Jeff C. Schatz said.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

September 26, 2008

Cranberry prepares ordinance regulating wood-burning stoves

By MATT CARROLL

A debate was sparked last month after residents complained about being smoked out of their homes

Cranberry Township officials have prepared an ordinance that would extinguish outdoor wood-burning stoves during spring and summer months.

Township supervisors said Thursday that they are reviewing three proposed ordinances, including one that would regulate existing wood burners in Cranberry.

"We're not banning anything that is already in place," chairman Fred Gustafson said Thursday at the supervisors' regular meeting. "But, we're going to set some regulations."

Gustafson said those regulations would ban use of the wood-burning stoves from the end of April to the end of September.

Also, burner flues would have to meet height requirements, and certain types of wood would be off-limits, Gustafson said.

The burner debate was sparked last month after several Cranberry residents raised concerns about being smoked out of their homes.

Karen Semencar told the supervisors that a neighborhood wood burner was emitting large amounts of smoke, which then entered the opens windows of surrounding homes during summer months.

The supervisors told Semencar that they would review the issue with township solicitor Jim Greenfield before their meeting Thursday.

"There are a number of communities that are looking at this, and a number of communities that have," supervisor Fred Blauser said Thursday. "I think you saw Oil City looking at it, and proposing an ordinance."

"It's coming," he added. "We are not as rural as we used to be."

Resident Randy Spencer asked the supervisors who would enforce the wood-burner ordinance, and also implied that the township would face legal challenges from burner owners.

"It's not going to be that strict that I think people are going to battle us on it," Gustafson said, adding that the ordinance will mainly effect the installation of new boilers and when existing boilers can operate.

The supervisors said the wood-burning ordinance and two others - noise and junkyard ordinances - will likely be ready for a first reading at their next meeting.

Full Article:  CLICK HERE

September 25, 2008

Outdoor Furnaces Nixed

by Pat Donlin

Residents of Muncy should think twice before they buy an outdoor furnace and people who work in the borough can likely expect a payroll tax to increase.

Borough council agreed last Thursday to advertise separate ordinances to ban the furnaces and raise—by $42 annually—a tax that benefits emergency services.

Council has heard past concerns about smoke coming from outdoor furnaces, which are known to burn a variety of wood, corn and other vegetable-based fuel.

The devices commonly consist of a burning chamber and chimney positioned several feet away from a home, according to borough Solicitor Sarah Steinbacher. Through piping, heat is directed inside the home. The furnaces may not be as controversial in rural areas, but they can be in densely populated boroughs.

In terms of people per square mile, Councilwoman Karen Richards said, “Muncy Borough is one of the densest municipalities on this side of the county.”

As Steinbacher’s office updates an existing burn barrel ordinance to include outdoor furnaces, she will also be involved in producing paperwork repealing the occupational privilege tax, replacing it with the occupational services tax.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

September 25, 2008

No. Smithfield residents decry 'prohibitive' wood-burning ordinance

By ETHAN SHOREY, Valley Breeze Staff Writer

NORTH SMITHFIELD - Town residents who were expecting to meet some opposition last week instead found almost none when they went before North Smithfield leaders to voice their displeasure at a proposed ordinance they say would virtually ban outdoor hydronic wood-burning furnaces for everyone in town.

Residents came armed with research to hand out and arguments that met receptive ears of Town Council members, who themselves were not happy with the ordinance as currently written.

There are at least 19 North Smithfield residents who own at least one of the alternative heating devices, say town officials. These are shed-like structures that burn wood outside the home to heat it within.

There are others reportedly interested in installing the furnaces, or similar alternative heating devices, due to higher-than-ever fuel prices heading into the winter season.

The same wood-burning furnaces were unanimously banned by the Woonsocket City Council last week, where City Council members pointed not only to a nuisance factor for residents in compact city neighborhoods, but environmental concerns over those who might burn garbage or toxic materials, creating a public health hazard.

The temptation to burn painted or pressure-treated wood, trash, plastics, or other hazardous materials has become increasingly attractive, say leaders from both towns, and remains difficult to enforce.

In North Smithfield, an ordinance that goes beyond restrictive, to "essentially prohibitive," according to at least one resident, would basically achieve what the Woonsocket legislation calls for - virtually no new furnaces.

The ordinance didn't even get a first official read-through by the Town Council, with members voicing unanimous opposition to it as initially set forth.

Town Solicitor Mark Hadden told members of the town board that he purposely wrote an ordinance that set forth more stringent guidelines so leaders would know exactly how far they could take such an ordinance to protect residents.

Councilor Paul Zwolenski led the cacophony of voices against a stringent wood-burning ordinance by calling it "ludicrous," Councilor Patrick Keeley indicating that "we need to use some common sense here," and Councilor David Lovett declaring that "basically nobody's going to be able to have one of these."

Even Councilor Paul Leclerc, who endorsed the idea of the ordinance based on an ongoing neighborly dispute, said after last week's meeting that he was surprised at how restrictive the proposed ordinance turned out, and said it essentially created a frenzy over an ordinance that was not likely to come out looking like it did when first presented.

Residents, many of whom said they owned at least one outdoor furnace, said that the required distance limits between the edge of their lots and the furnaces alone would be enough to keep them from having one, as permits must be issued even for existing units under the ordinance.

Glenn Andreoni, of Cranberry Lane, has two of the furnaces in question, and told council members he wouldn't meet the restrictions on his 2.17-acre lot.

"I don't think anyone would be able to have one of these," said Andreoni, on setback restrictions of "200 feet from any lot line," "50 feet from any structure," and "400 feet from any residential structure not on the property serviced by the (furnace)."

The ordinance calls for the furnaces in question to be located only on lots of 2.75 acres or more.

The restrictions on location, operation, and use of the wood-burning furnaces in the proposed ordinance topped the list of requirements not making the grade, said residents. Those included:

* Stipulations that both current owners and future owners would have to maintain yearly inspections, with an accompanying $20 fee, and that a $25 fee would be instituted for an initial application fee;

* Requirements that the furnaces only be run during the heating season, from Oct. 15 to April 1, thus alienating people who use the burners longer than that to heat their water.

* A requirement banning furnaces "within 1,000 feet of any school, church, or public water supply, source or aquifer, with some residents saying that almost everyone who lives in North Smithfield lives over some sort of aquifer or water source;

* That existing burners be retro-fitted to pass guidelines;

* And penalty fines of $200 for a first offense, with each day of an offense counting as a separate violation. Second offenses would call for a $300 fine, and a third $500.

The purpose of a new ordinance on outdoor wood burners continues to be the public health, according to Leclerc and Town Council President Linda Thibault.

"I am a nurse and my only interest here is the public health," said Thibault.

Leclerc said the emphasis should be on public and environmental safety, citing studies showing that the particulate matter emanating from wood furnaces can pose a health risk.

"I'm not in favor of (banning these altogether)," said Leclerc. "You just need to find a way to operate these without affecting your neighbors."

The Town Council extended a temporary ban on outdoor wood-burning furnaces for another 30 days, until the end of October, while the matter is sorted out. On Tuesday, Oct. 21, council members are scheduled to hold a special meeting to have their first reading of a revised wood-burning ordinance, with a second reading set for their regular meeting the following Monday, Oct. 27. The special meeting will be held so as not to further delay those who are looking to install new heating systems before colder weather sets in.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

September 24, 2008

North Adams Awaits State Regs on Wood Furnaces

By Tammy Daniels - September 24, 2008
iBerkshires Staff

NORTH ADAMS — The city is holding off on creating rules for outdoor wood furnaces until the state releases its own regulations, likely by the beginning of October.

The City Council declared a moratorium on the shedlike furnaces last month until in anticipation of regulations limiting their use. A number of other municipalities and states across the nation have begun regulating the furnaces, which have been cited as neighborhood polluters.

The Public Safety Committee recommended the delay after meeting with two owners of the wood-burning furnaces earlier this month and reviewing a rough draft of rules being considered by the Department of Environmental Protection.

"Mount Williams Greenhouses and Mr. [Richard] Sheehan are the basically the only two individuals the city who have those outdoord wood-burning furnancs right now," Councilor Ronald Boucher, chairman of the Public Safety Committee, told his colleagues on Tuesday night. "According to Mount Williams, they've had theirs for about four or five years, and burn somewhere near about 20 cord a year any without complaints."

Boucher did not know how long Sheehan had been using his furnace, but the East Main Street resident had said it had not been an issue.

Councilor Richard Alcombright, who submitted the resolution seeking a moratorium and regulations, said he'd like to see what the state came out with and maybe the city "could play around with that a little bit."

There are certain circumstances in which the city can be tougher than the state with regulations, said Councilor Clark Billings. "I'd like to see what the state has to offer first."

Alcombright agreed, adding, "I think there may be a need for us to look at something a little more restrictive."

Councilors had discussed at an earlier meeting the possibility of banning the furnaces in densely populated areas, or limiting their use to a minimum lot size.

Clarksburg has also suspended permits for outdoor-furnace installations until the state releases its code.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

September 23, 2008 (video)

Lysander considering outdoor furnace ban

WSYR-TV, Syracuse

Lysander, New York (WSYR-TV) - The town of Lysander is considering joining 50 other communities in New York that regulate or ban outdoor wood burning furnaces and boilers. The devices sit in a shed or outhouse-type structure and heat water, which then travels through pipes into the house.

There's quite a debate about the furnaces in Lysander. The Department of Environmental Conservation says studies show the emissions from outdoor furnaces do impact air quality.

Art and Sue Anthony live next door to one. “The kids can't go out and do snow forts without getting smoked out,” says Sue.

But owners of them insist the furnaces burn clean -- and save money. Brian Holz used to spend a thousand dollars each month on natural gas heat and hot water. Then, he bought an outdoor furnace three years ago for $10,000.

“With my savings in gas, it paid for itself in 2 1/2 years,” says Brian.

“Everyone's trying to come up with a way to beat the electric bill,” says Lysander town councilor Edward Reed. “Some options are great and some have trends that are negative.”

That's why Lysander town councilors are addressing the issue. They referenced legislation from all over the state.

“We didn't want to be too stringent, but [we] at least wanted a regulation that would give us some control,” says Reed.

The regulation would control new furnaces or boilers put in, but a lot of issues came up at the meeting -- such as how many feet they should be from property lines and how it'll be enforced. The town board decided to revise the ordinance before any sort of vote takes place.

The town board is also starting to work on a policy regarding the construction of windmills, as more communities deal with that issue.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

September 22, 2008

State rules have outdoor boiler sellers fuming away

September 22, 2008

MONTPELIER – Vermonters who sell outdoor wood boilers – those small metal outbuildings with smokestacks used by some to heat their homes – may not like the state's very tough pollution standards for their products but they have come to terms with them.

But what they don't accept – and what some lawmakers agree is not reasonable – are state rules putting limits on what kind of furnaces their businesses can sell outside the Green Mountains.

It may not be huge amount of money in the grand scheme of things, but to those who sell them, the Agency of Natural Resources' approach to the regulation of those outdoor wood furnaces smacks of a kind of bureaucratic arrogance and lack of interest in getting along with business.

But an ANR official says some of those outdoor wood boilers can be dirty, polluting not only the air around owners' houses but the atmosphere for neighbors as well. They also argue that allowing Vermont dealers to store such units inside the state but only sell them outside its borders would result in an enforcement nightmare.

For the last few years, Vermont has had laws on the books that set tough standards for which boilers could be used in Vermont. That means the units that can be sold in Vermont are more expensive than similar models that can be sold – so far – in New Hampshire and New York State.

George Eldred of Tunbridge might not like that prohibition on what units he can sell in Vermont, but he can live with it.

What he objects to, as do other sellers of the outdoor furnaces like Guy Charlton of Benson, is that ANR's interpretations of those rules prohibit him from bringing those more polluting units into Vermont at all to sell outside the state. So if he has customers in New Hampshire – as he does – that want one of the less expensive units that Vermont does not allow, he loses the sale and has to send those clients to another dealer, Eldred said.

"I cannot any longer purchase units that are legal in New Hampshire," Eldred said. "I don't understand it. Here they are not only sticking it to me in my own state, but limiting my business in another."

But whether the boilers are installed in New Hampshire of Vermont they are of a type the state has determined is too dirty, said Elaine O'Grady, an attorney with the Air Quality Division of Vermont's ANR.

"They are bad for our public health, whether your neighbor is here in Vermont or in New Hampshire," she said.

It is also difficult to enforce the ban on sales of the units in Vermont if dealers can buy them and stack them on their front lawn before selling them in New Hampshire.

"You don't have to track them all and see where they are installed," she said.

What matters is "where is your place of business," O'Grady said. "If your place of business is in Vermont then that is a Vermont sale."

But that just seems like nonsense to Charlton, who sees a chance of selling boilers to customers in New York State from his Benson business.

"They are legal to sell in New York," he said in bewilderment recently. Benson discovered the problem when he tried to order units from his wholesaler for New Yorkers who had agreed to a purchase – only to be told by his dealer ANR would not allow it.

"I tell you what that did to my blood pressure was not nice," Charlton said.

Hearing about it did not do wonders for Rep. Warren Kitzmiller's blood pressure either.

The Montpelier Democrat is the head of the Commerce Committee in the Vermont House of Representatives. That means he is not only interested in business but in another old Vermont tradition – collecting sales taxes from Granite and Empire State residents.

"Mr. Charlton could easily open a small branch store in New York and do this. But then Vermont would not be collecting ay sales tax," he said. "I disagree with (ANR's) interpretation of the statute and I am sorry to be in that position."

"He has a legitimate customer buying a legal product where he wants to buy it," Kitzmiller said. "The laws in New York are the laws in New York. We should not harm Vermont businesses to impose a higher limit on New York. I would be delighted to collect a little sales tax here rather than let New York get it."

Rep. Bob Helm, a Fair Haven Republican, isn't very happy about it either.

Helm, who represents Charlton, said he will bring the issue to the Legislature in January.

"We are going to take this right to the mat," he said. "It is the right thing to do."

In fact he is not sure at all the prohibition is even legal under commerce laws governing regulation between the states, Helm said.

Not so, according to O'Grady.

That is, in part, because the primary effect of the regulation is on Vermonters, she said.

"It is really Vermonters who are being burdened to a greater degree," she sad. "We are saying you cannot sell them in Vermont."

And there is an exemption for manufacturers who drive truckloads of the boilers – which dealers say are safer than furnaces inside houses – through Vermont.

It may seem like a narrow problem, but not for those who sell or want to buy the boilers. With fuel oil prices going up that is a larger and larger number of people, said Eldred, the Tunbridge dealer.

"Fuel oil is another mortgage payment for a lot of people," he said.

Eldred started selling the boilers about eight years ago. Each year he has doubled his sales, and the new ANR rule has cost him about 50 sales, he estimates.

Each sale of the boilers, which cost several thousand dollars, means several hundred dollars in sales tax for Vermont, Charlton said.

It may soon be a moot point. Massachusetts already regulates the boilers, and both New Hampshire and New York State are considering doing the same in one way or another.

"Vermont is the leader," O'Grady said. "That can be a tough position to be in, being the leader."

Indeed in some states, including New York, the regulation of outdoor wood boilers is even more local. More than 50 towns and county governments have their own bans or regulations of the furnaces – and conflicts between those laws and those selling or using the furnaces are becoming more common as fuel oil and propane costs drive more homeowners to use the units.

But those different regulations is part of the problem, Eldred said.

"I am absolutely for making things better. But we need a consistency of the regulatory process, every state should not be different," he said.

That is one thing that seems unlikely to change soon, however. The federal Environmental Protection Agency has declined to initiate a country-wide regulation system instead implementing a volunteer program.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

September 21, 2008

EPA threatens harsher air pollution limits on Fairbanks (OWBs mentioned)

Published Sunday, September 21, 2008

FAIRBANKS — Fairbanks still has a few years before it sees air pollution-prevention rules that, public officials say, could impact the way borough residents heat homes, operate industry and plan construction projects across the community.

But while those measures have yet to be drafted, government agencies already disagree whether the new rules should eventually apply to rural areas, neighborhoods and small towns well outside the city limits.

Local mayors and other members from a seven-person transportation planning group last week asked the federal government for an extra year to study the air pollution problem. The request comes as the Environmental Protection Agency prepares to tell pollution-prone communities — including Fairbanks and six other cities in the agency’s northwest region, which includes Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington state — exactly where they should focus future prevention measures, measures those communities’ local agencies need to draft within the next three years.

“Setting an overly large boundary without meaningful data may undermine public support for the hard choices that the community will face in the future to correct and control this health problem,” Steve Titus, a state transportation director who serves as chairman of the planning organization, wrote in the official request Wednesday.

The air pollution common in Fairbanks — particulate pollution, which peaks during cold winter days — consists of airborne particles of dust and soot. The pollution is generated by inefficient combustion, and health officials say exposure to it carries long-term health risks including chronic bronchitis, decreased lung function and, for people with heart or lung disease, shorter lives.

Air-quality specialists cite a number of potential sources including inefficient wood stoves, traditional fuel heaters and — possibly the dirtiest — outdoor wood boilers, which burn wood to heat water-based household heating systems.

Despite that insight, the transportation group questioned the EPA’s suggestion that local governments should monitor air pollution emissions in Salcha, Two Rivers, Eielson Air Force Base and other areas miles away from the city of Fairbanks.

It asked the agency to wait until it completes a $2.6 million study aimed at nailing down the source of the pollution.

North Pole Mayor Doug Isaacson said he was frustrated to hear that federal officials want to draw Fairbanks’ pollution-prevention boundaries before that study is complete.

“I don’t think we should be spending money on projects and be told our money is no good,” he said.

Particulate pollution

The federal government has for years regulated particulate pollution, which results from inefficient combustion. Federal officials tightened pollution standards in 2006, a move that left local leaders scrambling to wrap their arms around air quality problems and possible options.

Public officials will almost certainly need to regulate the more urban, populated areas of Fairbanks North Star Borough, including Fairbanks and North Pole. The question now revolves around whether it will need to keep its thumb on air pollution coming from homes, businesses and construction projects in and around rural areas like Fox, Salcha and Two Rivers.

Alice Edwards, who directs the state’s Division of Air Quality, said federal officials had originally sought to identify the entire 7,350-square-mile borough — an area the size of Connecticut — as the problem spot.

Local officials recommended a far smaller boundary, one that might have excluded almost everything outside the Fairbanks city limits. But Gina Bonifacino, an air quality planner with the Environmental Protection Agency’s office in Seattle, said her agency felt potential pollution sources existed outside those proposed borders and drew its own, a decision that followed a look at transportation patterns, community growth trends and population density.

Edwards told local leaders Wednesday that state officials are pressing the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider its proposed boundaries.

“We have a lot of work to do to see if we can whittle down this area,” she said.

The Environmental Protection Agency is set to publish its pollution-prevention boundaries for Fairbanks in December, Bonifacino said. After that, the government will require local officials to submit a pollution-prevention plan in 2012 and meet the plan’s goals two years later, Bonifacino said.

Glenn Miller, who directs the Fairbanks North Star Borough’s Air Quality Division, said the broad map proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency left local officials wondering two things: How much do neighborhoods in rural areas really contribute to air pollution, and, even if they do contribute significantly, how could local agencies possibly enforce pollution-prevention measures out there?

“We certainly want to protect the citizens that live there” from air pollution, Miller said. But to include areas that might not contribute significantly to that pollution, he said, could dilute prevention specialists’ ability to effectively monitor the larger problem.

Miller said it’s too early to know what type of pollution-prevention measures will emerge. But local officials have some clues, and he pointed to communities outside Alaska that have banned the use of older, less-efficient wood stoves and set up exchange programs that encourage people to trade those stoves in for newer, cleaner heating systems.

Borough Mayor Jim Whitaker told other public officials Wednesday that local leaders stand little chance of fighting their way out of the federal government’s nationwide pollution-prevention effort.

“The fact is, we can’t get out of this,” he said.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

September 19, 2008

More towns clamp down on outdoor furnaces

ALBANY, N.Y. — As outdoor wood furnaces catch on with homeowners looking to escape high heating bills, they're running afoul with more town and village officials worried about smoked-out neighbors.

The units, also called outdoor wood boilers, are becoming a common sight along rural roads. They look like sheds or outhouses with chimneys on top, but actually circulate water into homes for heating systems or hot water.

Owners love them because they can avoid buying heating oil, though local officials worried about downwind neighbors have been restricting their use.

"Right now, we feel they're too inefficient and they're impacting everybody," said East Fishkill Town Supervisor John Hickman.

The Hudson Valley town late last month adopted regulations on outdoor furnace operations just as two Adirondack villages passed similar local laws; Tupper Lake banned new outdoor furnaces and Saranac Lake set its own usage regulations.

The municipalities joined about 50 other towns, cities, villages and counties across New York state that either regulate or ban outdoor furnaces. Many more localities in northern states have taken similar actions as outdoor furnace sales boom.

An estimated 14,500 outdoor boilers were sold in New York from 1999 to 2007 and 188,500 were sold nationwide, with the bulk of the sales in recent years, according to the New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's office. Ken Decker of Decker Heating & Construction said he has sold more than 200 this year from his store just west of the Adirondack Park — more than double his 2007 sales.

Prices vary depending on the manufacturer, but installed costs of $7,000 to $10,000 are common. The cost of firewood varies widely by region, though users who cut their own can recoup their investment in a matter of years. Consider that the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts the average heating oil bill in the Northeast this winter will be about $2,600.

Jon Wilder, of Blue Arrow Farm southeast of Albany, said he and his family can collect enough wood for a winter over a few weekends in the fall.

"I get done with my three weeks of work and I look out my window and say, 'There's my winter heat,'" said Wilder, who also sells the outdoor boilers.

Decker and Wilder both stressed that smoke is not an issue as long as the boiler is stoked with dry, seasoned wood. They said problems occur when people burn cardboard or other trash. Decker said the outdoor units are cleaner than fireplaces.

"People see these ... with this plume of smoke coming off," he said, "so they point their fingers."

Regardless, drifting smoke is becoming an issue as the outdoor units multiply. Paul J. Miller, deputy director of Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, said the problem is becoming more acute as their popularity spreads from very rural areas to villages and other densely populated regions.

Miller said the outdoor boilers can put out a thousand more times fine particulate matter per hour than gas- or oil-fired furnaces. The smoke can be especially hazardous to people with asthma and other respiratory conditions, he said.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a voluntary program that encourages manufacturers to sell cleaner-burning units, but there are no mandatory federal standards. Three New England states regulate outdoor boilers: Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire.

Lawmakers in New York introduced a bill that would apply statewide regulations. But that bill has not made it to a floor vote, leaving it a local issue in New York.

Municipalities that set regulations will typically try to mitigate the smoke problem by enforcing minimum lot sizes, mandatory setbacks and chimney heights. Others, like Tupper Lake, opt for a ban.

"We wanted to care of this before it became a problem," said Tupper Lake Mayor Mickey Desmarais. "We know with the increased cost of energy, a lot of people would want to put these out."

Full Article: CLICK HERE

September 19, 2008

New regs in the works for outdoor wood boilers

By Betsy Haley-Cormier CORRESPONDENT

 

 

WESTMINSTER— New regulations are in the works for residents planning to heat their homes with outdoor hydronic heaters, better known as outdoor wood boilers. The Board of Health is creating guidelines for their use and is looking for input from residents. Comments will be accepted until Oct. 1.

 

Board of Health member Patricia Glover said the regulations have come as a result of an increase in interest, as well as a few complaints regarding outdoor wood boilers already operating in town.

 

An informational meeting was held this week to review the proposed guidelines before the final draft is created.

 

 

The proposal calls for guidelines on installation, lot sizes, emissions and set-back requirements. It also covers what types of fuel can be burned.

 

Only clean wood would be allowed. Garbage, tires, yard or demolition debris, plastic, animal carcasses and rubber would be prohibited.

 

Ms. Glover said the town has followed regulations created by the state, but has made them a little less stringent where possible. For instance, the months that the boilers are allowed to be operated has been increased from the state standard to allow residents to burn a little later into the spring.

 

The draft proposal is available at Town Hall. Written comments are welcome at the Board of Health office in Town Hall, or they can be mailed to 11 South St., Westminster, MA 01473. The final regulations will be created after Oct. 1.

 

Full Article: CLICK HERE

September 18, 2008

Council imposes ban on outdoor wood furnaces

KENYON — Acting on a recommendation from the Kenyon Planning Commission, and citing other cities’ ordinances, the Kenyon City Council adopted a resolution at its regular meeting Sept. 10 to place a moratorium on outdoor wood-burning furnaces within the city limits.

Among the reasons named were health and safety issues, as well as the difficulty of regulating any laws that could pertain to the furnaces.

The three-month moratorium is in place at least until Oct. 14, 2008, when a public hearing on the matter will be held.

Councilman Fred Barsness serves on the planning commission. He quoted Kay Wilcox of the New Prague City Council, who called the outdoor furnaces “detrimental to the health, comfort, safety, welfare and prosperity of” New Prague.

The moratorium “is certainly a credible way to regulate (the use) at this time,” city attorney Scott Riggs told council members. The furnaces cannot be retroactively prohibited, he added.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

September 18, 2008

Clarksburg Latest to Halt Outdoor Wood Furnaces

By Tammy Daniels - September 18, 2008
iBerkshires Staff

CLARKSBURG — Town officials have put the kibosh on permits for outdoor wood furnaces — at least until state decides how to regulate them.

The Selectmen last week declared a moratorium on any new installations of the furnaces, known as hydronic heaters. Homeowners can continue to operate existing furnaces for now.

"These furnaces can cost $12,000, $14,000," said Selectman Carl McKinney. "We don't want someone spending that kind of money to put one in and then find out they have to take it out."

Clarksburg is the latest municipality to consider regulating the use of the shedlike furnaces. Adams banned the furnaces last year and North Adams declared a moratorium on their installation until the city could formulate ordinances relating to them.

The boilers burn wood to heat water or anti-freeze that is piped into an existing heating system. The furnaces have raising concerns over air pollution and public health.

They've exploded in popularity as other fuels, such as natural gas and heating oil, have doubled and tripled in price over recent years. They come in a range of sizes and are priced in the thousands.

But states and municipalities have been cracking down on their use after neighbors have complained of smoke-filled homes and soot. Maine is considering a buy-back program for polluting furnaces.

"As more units have been installed, and installed increasingly in more urban or suburban areas, MassDEP has received many complaints from neighbors of OHH installations about the unhealthy effects of the smoke produced and interference with the use of their property," according to MassDEP in stating the need for regulations.

McKinney and Chairwoman Debra LeFave said the town did not want to discourage residents seeking alternative fuels, but it did want to make sure that public safety issues are addressed.

"But once the [Department of Environmental Protection] comes out with new regulations, we'll have to take them up," said McKinney.

The DEP held a number of hearings through the summer on the furnaces and has produced draft regulations that would limit their use, fuels, setbacks and emissions. The proposals are expected to be completed by Oct. 1.

McKinney said the several existing furnaces (the exact number is unknown) would hopefully be able to operate with minor adjustments, if any. "Maybe they'll have to extend their smokestack 20 feet."

For more information on air quality testing on outdoor wood furnaces, see Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

September 17, 2008


Oakland discusses outdoor furnaces, street ordinances

By Helen B. Foster

 

Oakland Borough Council discussed an ordinance governing outdoor wood burning furnaces at the Sept. 11 meeting.

Concerns were what can be burned, the moisture content of wood, and set backs from adjourning property. There was also a question on insurance issues.

 

Councilman Dave Trevarthan said he did not want to deprive a person from being able to heat their home, so council tabled the ordinance until all council people have a copy of the proposed ordinance at the next meeting.

 

Full Article: CLICK HERE

September 16, 2008

Smoke clears over outdoor stove dispute

By Margaret Poe, staff writer
Daily Messenger

Canandaigua, N.Y. - A Goodale Road resident will breathe easier this fall thanks to a Board of Health hearing on Monday.

After a 10-year dispute, resident Robert Chrisman agreed to immediately stop burning wood in his outdoor stove and to remove the furnace from his yard by the end of the year.

“I’m glad it’s over after all these years,” said Betty Singer, the neighbor who filed the complaint. “Hopefully now we will be able to breathe more clean air and be able to sleep through the night without thinking our house is on fire.”

The Town Board, acting as the Board of Health, voted to require Chrisman to remove the stove at 5607 Goodale Road and install an indoor heating system within 60 days. The board voted 4-1 in favor of the settlement, with Marion Cassie the lone dissenting vote, said Town Supervisor Lloyd Kinnear.

Chrisman did not respond to repeated calls on Tuesday.

Singer first filed a complaint in 1998, claiming that her neighbor’s stove was causing her respiratory problems. She told the town the smoke also prevented her from hanging clothes in her yard, or from getting a good night’s sleep, according to town documents. Chrisman installed a chimney to alleviate the problem but the issue flared repeatedly over the ensuing years.

Finally, in 2007, a town zoning officer ticketed Chrisman for not conforming with a new town law regulating outdoor furnaces. Further testing of the stove followed, and the issue came before the board in June of this year. After hours of testimony from both sides, the board opted to carry the discussion on to another meeting.

The agreement also stated the town will eliminate the public nuisance charges held against Chrisman. His new indoor heating system can be wood-burning, the town said, as long as it complies with state fire prevention and building regulations.

Contact Margaret Poe at (585) 394-0770, Ext. 322, or at mpoe@messengerpostmedia.com

Full Article: CLICK HERE

September 16, 2008

City Council takes stand on burners

By JOSEPH B. NADEAU
 
WOONSOCKET — The City Council took a tough stand on air pollution Monday night while voting unanimously to approve a ban on so-called outdoor furnace boilers.  The addition to the city’s housing codes on Heating and Refrigeration would make the ban effective on Oct. 1. Any outdoor furnaces already installed at city homes would be grandfathered under the new ordinance but would have to abide a fuel stipulation approved at the request of Fire Chief Kenneth Finlay.
 “The only wood permitted to be used would be stipulated as clean, dried cordwood,” Finlay said while describing the fuel stipulation to the council.
 That change would prevent the existing boilers using lower grade fuels that have created problems in other communities, according to Finlay.
 An outdoor furnace is a small shed-like burning stove that has a boiler system for providing a supply of heat to a home.
The size of the burning box allows users to burn a variety of wood products and even brush to make heat.
 Neighboring communities such as a North Smithfield have adopted similar bans on the furnaces in light of neighbor complaints about the sometimes smoky emissions they create.
The shed-like stoves have a relatively low stack height compared to the chimney fixed to a home or larger building.
 City Councilmen William D. Schneck and John F. Ward voiced support for the ordinance and its amendment before the vote.
There are currently two properties in the city with the alternative heating devices and Schneck noted the concerns raised in North Smithfield as a caution against further installations.
 “With the cost of oil going up people are going to be looking for other ways to heat their homes,” Schneck said. “And what gets burned in these things, as our neighbors in North Smithfield have found, is not always clean dried wood,” he said.
 Ward said he simply wanted to thank Finlay for quickly coming up with regulations for the devices. “Thank you for your response, I will support this and we will take care of it this way,” he said of concerns raised about the heating devices.
 The ordinance, drafted by the city’s law department, states that boilers installed prior to Oct. 1 shall only be used for heating purposes No more than three cords of clean, dried cordwood can be stored as fuel for the devices on site and wood length must not exceed four feet.
 The units are required to be installed according their manufacture’s standards with the proper permitting from the City of Woonsocket Building Inspection Division.
 The ordinance will take effect 11 days following passage by the Council.

Full Article: CLICK HERE
 

September 16, 2008

OC resident complains about wood-burners

By JUDITH O. ETZEL

Oil City Council was asked Monday night to intervene in two neighborhood issues that involve safety.

Outdoor wood-burning furnaces that are used during the summer months constitute a nuisance and health hazard, a Carson Street resident told council.

The neighborhood, she said, was filled with "acrid and putrid-smelling black smoke" all summer from a nearby resident's wood-burner. In addition, she said, a chainsaw "runs five out of seven nights" and a large woodpile presents a fire hazard and is attracting termites and rodents.

"I'm not totally against wood burning but in summer, I want to breath the air," said the local resident.

Her remarks, aimed at encouraging council to adopt an ordinance regulating outdoor furnace operations, drew support from John Bartlett, city council member.

"I sympathize and I fully support her...(Wood-burner) air emissions exceed the standards in almost all cases," Bartlett said. "This issue needs addressed quickly."

Mayor Sonja Hawkins asked Bartlett to investigate outdoor wood-burning furnaces and accumulate ordinances dealing with that issue in other communities. Council, she said, would re-visit the subject once that information is obtained.

A North Street man asked council for help in getting two "Children Playing" traffic signs to install in the 600 block. More than 25 youngsters, he said, play in that area and safety measures need strengthened on the street.

Council asked city staff to gather information on the costs and procedures for installment.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

September 16, 2008

Town approves outdoor wood boiler regulations

By Betty Lilyestrom CORRESPONDENT

blilyestrom@telegram.com

 

 

LEICESTER— The Board of Health has approved regulations for what may become a popular form of household heating in these days of rising oil prices — the outdoor wood boiler.

 

The board voted on the regulations last week and sent them to the state Department of Environmental Protection for safety approval. Director of Public Health Darlene M. O’Connor said the rules will take effect as soon as they receive a DEP signature.

 

No state or federal law regulates boilers, which burn dry, untreated wood to heat water to be piped into homes. Regulations are left up to individual communities, which are gradually adopting them.

 

 

Some communities, such as Auburn, have adopted rules that ban future wood boilers but regulate existing ones in town.

 

Leicester permits both new and existing units but regulates the distance permitted from structures for the new ones. No new wood boiler will be allowed to be installed closer than 300 feet to a structure and must be at least a similar distance from wooded areas.

 

The reason for the distances, according to Ms. O’Connor, is not the risk of fire but rather the odor of the smoke.

 

“Complaints about the smoke were the reason we started these regulations,” she said. “There weren’t many complaints, but we wanted to find a way to deal with them.”

 

The Board of Health, involved because the smoke pollution is a health issue, held a public meeting on the boilers in July and solicited additional comments from residents for the next month before drafting the regulations. The finished product was presented and approved at a hearing last Tuesday.

 

Because installers of outdoor wood boilers never had to get a permit for installation before, the Board of Health doesn’t really know how many are in town.

 

“We thought when we started that there were about 12,” Ms. O’Connor said. “But because of the comments and the large numbers at the meetings, we now think there may be between 20 and 30.”

 

Auburn, in contrast, has five existing boilers, with no more scheduled to come, according to the Auburn Board of Health.

 

Once the regulations are in effect, all wood boiler owners will need to get a one-time permit at a cost of $75. Owners of existing boilers will be given 30 days to apply for the permit, but those wishing to install a new boiler must get the permit before they install it.

 

The rules also say that all boilers must be operated in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions and that none shall be allowed to created a nuisance.

 

Violators of the Leicester regulations will be subject to fines of $100 for the first offense, $200 for each subsequent offense, and ultimately, a complaint to District Housing Court.

 

Because families are more likely to have their windows open during the summer, wood boilers within 300 feet of a structure may be operated only between Oct. 15 and April 30. Wood boilers farther than 300 feet may be used year-round.

 

In other communities, the allowed periods range from Aug. 5 to May 5 and from Sept. 15 to May 15. One boiler owner in Westboro has been asked not to use his boiler between May 15 and Oct. 1. He has also greatly extended his boiler’s smokestack to keep from annoying his neighbors.

 

Spencer is preparing wood boiler regulations, according to the town’s Division of Utilities, currently operating under a draft copy. Other towns that have adopted regulations or are working on them are Ashburnham, North Brookfield, Douglas, Oakham, Petersham and Athol, which revived its search for a program last week.



Full Article: CLICK HERE

 
 

September 16, 2008

Outdoor boiler sales suffering image problem Some dealers say heavy-handed rules put damper on trade

BY TUX TURKEL
Blethen Maine Newspapers

Night-time temperatures have been dipping into the 40s at Mike Gervais' house in Gray, but inside, the thermostat is set at a toasty 74 degrees.

Gervais doesn't worry about the price of oil this year. Five weeks ago, he installed an outdoor wood boiler that will completely warm his 2,000-square-foot home and heat water using energy from trees cut on his land.

But buying an outdoor wood boiler, which costs $10,000 or so, requires more than money these days. It also take a lot of research and a little faith.

Deserved or not, these burners have become the bad boys of alternative energy. They've developed a reputation as a nuisance and threat to public health, metal shacks that dot Maine's rural landscape, belching smoke and annoying neighbors.

Following direction from lawmakers, environmental regulators over the past year have set pollution limits, created rules that dictate how the boilers can be installed and phased out old technology. They're even trying to start a program to buy back the dirtiest boilers from willing owners.

The state's Board of Environmental Protection will hear from the public on these regulations, Oct. 16 in Augusta.

But the controversy doesn't concern Gervais. His unit burns so efficiently that it produces very little smoke. It exceeds state air quality standards that won't take effect until 2010. The achievement shows how manufacturers are stepping up to clear the air -- and their industry's image.

Despite the progress, some Maine dealers say the government has been too heavy-handed. They lament the amount of regulation, and the negative publicity, given to what they see as a very limited problem created mostly by improper installation and operation.

That said, the companies and dealers that have weathered the storm may now be in a position to grow, as oil prices continue to drive Mainers to alternative energy sources. With cold weather approaching, they're trying to navigate shifting regulations and overcome lingering public confusion about their product.

Outdoor boilers burn firewood outside the buildings they heat. Fuel burns in a firebox that heats water, which travels through insulated, underground pipes. Proponents like the safety of an outdoors fire, and the ease of heating large spaces without constantly hauling and loading logs.

But the units have caused problems, when, for instance, owners burn wet wood or yard waste. The result can be smoky fires that blow particles from their low stacks into neighboring yards and homes. Complaints have led to lawsuits, and to the federal government, as well as many towns and states, clamping down.

No one's sure how many boilers are running in Maine, although the state estimates 3,000 or so. The Department of Environmental Protection has received 75 complaints over the past few years about nuisance boilers. To dealers, that doesn't seem like a major public health concern, but it was enough to get the Maine Legislature involved.

Among other things, new rules do the following:

• Restrict dealers, as of next April, from selling units that don't meet new federal emissions guidelines. By April of 2010, boilers must meet stricter state limits.

• Establish minimum setbacks, depending on the boiler's emission rate. They vary from 70 to 270 feet from the nearest house.

• Raise minimum stack heights to at least 10 feet, and set limits on visual smoke.

• Ban burning of yard waste, treated wood and construction debris. Only clean wood can be burned.

• Offer to buy some of the worst-polluting boilers. Raising the money to carry out this program is still unresolved, however.

These actions, and similar regulations in several other states, have challenged manufacturers. What they're going through, said Ron Severance, program planning director at the DEP's air quality bureau, isn't much different than what car and boat engine makers, and wood stove designers, have faced.

"If they want to sell them, they have to meet the emission levels," Severance said. "So they're figuring out ways to make them cleaner."

Full Article: CLICK HERE

September 13, 2008

Council to consider outdoor furnace rules

By JOSEPH FITZGERALD

NORTH SMITHFIELD — A proposed ordinance regulating outdoor wood burning furnaces has been drafted and submitted to the Town Council, which will review the document and consider preliminary passage of the ordinance on Monday.

The council’s first reading of the ordinance at 7 p.m. at the Kendall-Dean School comes nine days before a moratorium on new installations of outdoor wood burning furnaces expires Sept. 23.
The council executed the six-month moratorium in February and when it expired on Aug. 1, the panel voted to extend it until Sept. 23. The extension was needed to prevent new installations until the town was ready to adopt local regulations that could either set strict regulations or ban the stoves altogether.
Those regulations are now set to be adopted.
The town has been working with an expert consultant hired by the town to help the community study the effects of wood burning furnaces and draft a local ordinance that would regulate and control them.
The council had been considering the moratorium for months following a private nuisance case between two Pound Hill Road neighbors over one of the neighbor’s use of an outdoor wood burning furnace. The local case in question involves resident Keith Klockars of 676 Pound Hill Road, who has been operating an outside wood boiler manufactured by Minnasota-based Central Boiler, Inc. Klockars’ neighbor, John Wilbur, who lives 200 feet from Klockars’ house, has complained to town officials about constant clouds of thick smoke he says has made it impossible for his family to enjoy their backyard.
An outdoor wood furnace resembles a small utility building that sits outdoors and contains a wood fired, water-jacketed stove. The hot water is circulated through underground pipes to the inside of the house, where they are hooked to a heat exchanger in the majority of cases. In some cases, they can be directly plumbed to the hot water heater or tied in with an existing floor heating system or boiler.
Proponents say outdoor wood furnaces are simple, clean and efficient. Instead of moving the wood and corresponding mess and bugs indoors, the wood burning furnace is outdoors next to the wood. Indoor air pollution is also cut to zero by moving the fire and smoke outside. Users typically load it once at night and once in the morning.
Opponents point to the fact that wood burning furnaces cause dense smoke that impacts neighbors by creating a nuisance and health problems. Most units come equipped with very short stacks and the smoke from these low stacks disperses poorly.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends emissions and air quality standards, but does not regulate where and when the wood-fired burners can be installed or used. A growing number of communities nationwide are setting their own rules on the increasingly popular wood boilers, which are not federally regulated. Some states, including Connecticut and Maine, have regulations and let their municipalities adopt even stricter limits or ban the boilers altogether. Massachusetts has considered statewide rules but has not enacted them.
“The Town Council recognizes and finds that although outdoor hydronic heaters or outdoor wood burners may represent an economical alternative to conventional heating systems, such systems should not be located or used in a such a manner as to compromise the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of the town resulting from harmful emissions, offensive odors, smoke, soot, fumes, ash or other conditions that may also otherwise constitute a nuisance from the use and operation of outdoor furnaces,” the ordinance states.
Allowable fuels, according to the ordinance, include clean wood, wood pellets made from clean wood and home heating oil or natural gas.
According to the ordinance, a permit will be required to construct, install and operate any outdoor wood furnace. Permits will be issued only for the heating season, which begins on Oct. 15 and expires April 1. A $25 application fee for the permit will apply.
The stoves can only be installed on lots of 2.75 acres or more and can be no closer than 200 feet from any lot line; 50 feet from any structure; and 400 feet from any residential structure not on the property serviced by the furnace.
The unit, according to the ordinance, must be located in the back yard, behind the structure to be serviced. They also cannot be located within 1,000 feet of any school, church, or public water supply, source or aquifer.
Stoves can only be in operation during the heating season, which will be from Oct. 15 to April 1. Stacks or chimneys on the stoves cannot be taller than 18 feet and must comply with particulate emission standards. According to the ordinance, no furnace can be installed unless it has been certified to meet a particulate matter emission limit of 0.32 lb/MMBtu heat output.
Failure to comply with the terms of the ordinance will result in a fine of $200 for each offense. Each second day of the offense will result in a $300 fine and each offense thereafter will be $500. Anyone who is convicted of a third offense will have the permit revoked.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

September 13, 2008

The cost of more burn for the buck (OWBs mentioned)

By Kevin Miller
BDN Staff

Recent nighttime temperatures in the 30s and 40s mean the air in many Maine neighborhoods soon will carry one of the telltale signs of winter in New England: the sweet smell of burning wood.

But health and environmental officials say there is potential for increased air pollution problems in isolated spots as more Maine homeowners attempt to fight off record-high oil prices by lighting up the old stove or fireplace.

“We expect that there will be more air pollution this year,” said Ed Miller, chief executive officer of the American Lung Association of Maine.

What is extremely difficult to predict, Miller and others said, is how much pollution that additional wood burning will create — and whether Mother Nature will help minimize the effects or conspire to cause health problems on the ground.

“The big picture is that under most weather conditions Maine’s air quality is pristine,” said state Environmental Protection Commissioner David Littell. “Winter air quality is usually very good in Maine.”

New wood stoves as well as wood pellet stoves are flying off the shelves at retailers across the state — that is, if there are any left in stock to sell.

That’s because even with recent increases in the price of pellets and firewood, these homegrown fuel sources still typically offer more burn for the buck than $4-a-gallon heating oil.

Modern wood stoves certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or pellet stoves are not really a concern when it comes to air pollution, according to state officials. While they emit more particulate matter — or soot — than oil-fired or natural gas furnaces, they are still relatively clean and highly efficient.

Air pollution becomes a concern, officials said, when you’re talking about inefficient fireplaces and those old wood stoves that, until this year, have been relegated to the role of kitchen furniture.

Older wood stoves and fireplaces are often hundreds, even thousands of times dirtier than oil and gas-fired furnaces. The same goes for many outdoor wood boilers bought before state emissions standards took effect this year.

“My sense is a lot more people are trying to buy new pellet stoves … and clean-burning, EPA [certified] wood stoves,” Littell said. But the harsh economic reality is that an untold number of homeowners will feel forced to use older, dirtier wood stoves more than they have in years past, Littell said.

Adding to air quality concerns, firewood sellers are quickly running out of the dried, seasoned wood that burns most cleanly and efficiently. Burning green wood not only produces more air pollution, it also releases more substances that can raise the likelihood of chimney fires.

Whether those dirtier heat sources will trigger air quality problems depends largely on weather, topography and housing density.

Even a light breeze will help disperse smoke, or at least lift it far above the breathing zone. The problem occurs during what’s known as an “inversion” when a layer of warmer air forms above the colder ground. Inversions are most common on clear, dry and cold days or nights when there is little to no wind.

Jim Brooks, director of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection’s Bureau of Air Quality, said he expects to see some air quality “hot spots” in urban areas.

“Out in rural Maine where there are not many people around, you’re not going to damage air quality,” said Brooks. “It’s in the urban areas where you have a concentration of folks [burning wood] and you have an inversion.”

Littell said air quality monitors around the state would watch for problems. While uncommon, air quality advisories are occasionally issued for specific areas in Maine during winter. Increased wood burning combined with inversion conditions could lead to more air quality advisories, Littell said.

The American Lung Association of Maine is working with the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention on a large survey of homeowners about their heating intentions for the coming winter.

The lung association’s Miller said that report, slated for release in early October, would help shed light on how many households plan to increase their reliance on wood for heat.

But Miller acknowledged that air pollution is not the most pressing issue many Mainers will face this winter.

“It’s not good for your health to be cold either,” Miller said. “The lung association’s position is we want to see people burning wood as cleanly and safely as possible.”

Full Article: CLICK HERE

September 12, 2008

Town considers three-month ban on outdoor boilers

By William J. Kemble , Correspondent

ROSENDALE - The Town Board has scheduled an Oct. 1 public hearing on a proposed three-month moratorium on the installation of outdoor wood-burning boilers.

The moratorium would give the town time to revise a proposed law regarding the boilers.

The moratorium was discussed during a Town Board meeting Wednesday, when members suspended a public hearing on proposed regulations that appeared to make both supporters and opponents unhappy.

Following the session, town Supervisor Patrick McDonough said suggestions regarding the boilers have ranged from "banning them entirely" to allowing outdoor furnaces using only existing state regulations.

"Most of the things have to do with distances, setbacks, stack height requirements and measuring the output for particulate matter," McDonough said.

Under the proposed regulations, boilers would be required to have smokestacks that are at least 2 feet higher than the peak of houses within 500 feet.

Other provisions include having the boilers on a minimum of 1.5 acres, keeping the units at least 100 feet from the nearest property line and using them only from Oct. 15 to April 15.

McDonough said a moratorium is needed to prevent people from installing boilers for the coming winter that may be prohibited.

"It's my mistake for not thinking of it sooner, but maybe a moratorium earlier would have been a better idea," the supervisor said.

"I don't think we can stop people from putting them in if they've already got a permit," McDonough said. But "I would caution that there may be regulations that could end up going in place that may affect your wood boilers later."

Full Article: CLICK HERE

September 12, 2008

Wood-burning stoves subject of Cranberry debate

By MATT CARROLL

An area resident has sparked a heated debate over the future of outdoor wood-burning stoves in Cranberry Township.

Karen Semencar gathered with concerned neighbors Thursday at the Cranberry Township Supervisors' meeting to complain about being smoked out.

Semencar told the Freds - supervisors Gustafson, Buckholtz and Blauser - that a neighborhood wood burner is emitting large amounts of smoke, which then travels into adjacent homes.

"So many of us have lost an entire summer, because we had to close windows and doors and try to live with this smoke," Semencar said. "(Our neighbor) has taken from every one of us the right to enjoy our property."

Hunting for possible solutions, Semencar delivered information to the supervisors on steps taken in other communities to restrict wood burners.

"There are some pros and cons," Buckholtz said of the argument. "I agree that we need to sit down and talk about this. But, it's going to take awhile to put this all together."

Blauser urged his fellow supervisors to direct township officials to review current ordinances and to prepare proposed regulations for review by the township's solicitor.

"I've reviewed all of the literature that you gave me, and I am convinced it's a problem," Blauser told Semencar.

However, it seems unlikely that there will be an all-out ban of wood-burning stoves, which are prevalent in the township.

"Whatever we would do, we would not ban wood burners, no matter what," said Gustafson, president of the supervisors.

Gustafson questioned the supervisors' authority to restrict the existing wood burner, adding the issue may be a civil matter.

The supervisors agreed to review the issue with township solicitor Jim Greenfield when they meet during the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, Dave Comiski, who owns the burner and uses it to heat his pool in the summer and his home in the winter, said he won't burn again until cold weather arrives.

That seemed to be little comfort for Semencar and her neighbors, who are concerned about their health.

"The furnace, when it emits smoke, it's toxic," Semencar said. "Even with your windows and doors shut, you are still getting it through your ventilation systems in your homes. Some people in our area are afraid to speak out."

In other business: the supervisors tabled a discussion on a request from the Cranberry Area School District, which asked the township take over Education Drive.

The stretch of road between Big Egypt Road and Route 257 may remain school district property after the supervisors discussed the costs of taking over the road and making improvements.

Township officials have been televising lateral sewer lines, and are preparing to send out a second wave of letters informing residents that they must make repairs.

The township previously sent 55 letters, and 20 repairs have already been made, said utility manager Mike Irwin.

Township officials are asking area businesses to recycle and to give the township reports, to aid in the amount of reimbursement Cranberry can receive from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

September 11, 2008

Wilmington town board drafts outdoor wood boiler regulations

HEATHER SACKETT, News Staff Writer

WILMINGTON — The Wilmington town board, in keeping with other area municipalities, has drafted a local law to regulate the use of outdoor wood boilers.

“It was unanimous that we needed to do something,” said town Supervisor Randy Preston at Tuesday night’s regular meeting.

Preston said the town has received numerous complaints about smoke from outdoor wood boilers blowing into neighbors’ yards.

“It’s highly hazardous for anyone to be breathing,” he said. “We have to protect the people from having to breathe that.”

An outdoor wood boiler (OWB) is a freestanding structure that contains a firebox surrounded by a water reservoir. Water is heated, then circulated through the home. They are touted as an alternative means of providing heat for buildings during a time when the price of oil is climbing. A permit from the town is required before residents can install one.

Wilmington’s draft regulations include a setback of at least 100 feet from any other residence other than the one served by the furnace, only firewood may be burned in them (no garbage or treated lumber), OWBs may only be operated between Sept. 1 and May 31, and a smokestack higher than the peak of surrounding residences is required, if those residences are within 100 to 300 feet of the furnace. The smokestack must not exceed 35 feet.

Residents with existing wood boilers would have one year to bring it into compliance with the regulations.

Preston said Wilmington’s proposed regulations are based on ones enacted by the town of Chesterfield in 2007, but are “softened up a bit and more lenient” than those in the town of Chesterfield.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is drafting regulations that could be put into place as early as next year, citing studies that point to OWBs as contributing to poor air quality.

But some local municipalities have opted not to wait for the state to take action. The village of Saranac Lake recently enacated a six-month moratorium on OWB permits. The town of Jay is looking for residents to serve on an ad hoc committee regarding possible OWB regulations.

A copy of the complete draft regulations are available at the Wilmington town clerk’s office at 7 Community Center Circle. A public hearing on the issue will be held on Oct. 14, prior to the 7 p.m. regular board meeting.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

September 9, 2008

City officials consider ban for outdoor furnaces

Outdoor wood-fired furnaces may soon be outlawed in Pottsville.

BY BEN WOLFGANG
STAFF WRITER
bwolfgang@republicanherald.com
Published: Tuesday, September 9, 2008 4:14 AM EDT

Outdoor wood-fired furnaces may soon be outlawed in Pottsville.

And existing stoves, or those with already with permits to be installed, may need higher smokestacks.

One Mahantongo Street resident, however, thinks the city council’s proposed resolution comes too late. He said a neighbor is planning to install one soon.

“It (a wood furnace) emits as much pollution as two heavy-duty diesel trucks,” David Zerbe, 2155 Mahantongo St., told city council at its Monday meeting. “All of that is going be right next to me.”

Following air quality complaints from residents, city Administrator Thomas Palamar said he and other officials drafted an ordinance banning all such furnaces. The resolution is expected to be voted on at the council’s next meeting and no permits will be issued after that, assuming it passes.

Officials said Zerbe’s neighbor filed a permit application Aug. 4, prompting a letter from Zerbe outlining concerns such as pollution and odor.

The furnaces have drawn attention around Schuylkill County. Saint Clair, Girardville, Butler Township and Ryan Township are considering similar regulations.

Palamar and solicitor Thomas Pellish said there’s little the city can do for stoves already installed other than require owners to obtain a permit from the city.

“If it’s an existing one, it is grandfathered in,” Councilman Michael Halcovage said.

Palamar said the ordinance will place new restrictions on the existing stoves, such as mandating they have a stack that reaches at least two feet higher than the adjacent home. They must also be at least 200 feet away from any neighboring home. Also under the proposed ordinance, Palamar said stoves could only be used from September through May.

Zerbe, however, asked the council if anything could be done to prohibit his neighbor from continuing work.

“You have a neighbor problem. We can’t control that,” Pellish told Zerbe. “We can’t predict what he’s going to do.”

Zerbe questioned whether residents using wood-fired furnaces would follow new regulations, adding he’s seen ordinances broken on a regular basis in Pottsville.

Mayor John D.W. Reiley said city officials will continue tracking down anyone breaking ordinances and impose fines as high as $600.

“I knew that would be the explanation,” Zerbe said after the meeting. “Being satisfied (with it) is different.”

Full Article: CLICK HERE

September 9, 2008 (video)

Talk to 21 Update: Proposed Ordinance

Contributor: Melissa Sadowski
Email: news@cbs21.com
Last Update: 9/09 7:28 am

On Monday night Berrysburg Borough Council introduced a proposed ordinance that would regulate the use of outdoor wood burning appliances, which are essentially home furnaces that are outside.

Neighbors had complained that smoke from one already in use in the community was a nuisance.

Last month, CBS 21 spoke with the owner of one of these appliances. He became upset about us doing the story and called police.

At Monday night's meeting, police were there to escort another man out for disrupted behavior.

Council is expected to vote on the ordinance at its next meeting.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

September 7, 2008

Scrutiny for wood boilers

By MICHAEL COUSINEAU
New Hampshire Union Leader Staff

Customers at Northwood Power Equipment are hoping to get their outdoor wood heaters delivered before a new state law bans the selling of some models starting Jan. 1.

"I don't think we're going to be taking orders anymore," said store manager Rick Devoid. "We're getting close to the deadline. Right now, it's a November-December delivery date."

A state law passed in July set the Jan. 1 ban for selling outdoor wood-fired hydronic boilers that don't meet federal air pollution standards.

But people buying wood boilers designed for installation indoors don't have to worry because they don't fall under the state law.

"Our sales are strong," said Scott Nichols, president of Bioheat USA. The Lyme company, formerly known as Tarm USA, sells indoor boilers that use oil, gas or propane whenever the wood fire burns out.

Nichols attributed the upswing in sales to people wanting to stop using home heating oil or propane this winter.

"It's always money," he said.

"From surveys we've done, by far the biggest motivation is energy-cost savings," Nichols said. "The second motivations are energy independence and making some statement about foreign policy."

The indoor boilers have a 2-foot by 4-foot footprint and stand about 4 feet high.

People put wood into the boiler and pipe the heat into a water-to-air heat exchanger. It can be connected to an existing forced-hot air heating system or through the installation of radiant baseboards. Those two scenarios could cost from less than $5,000 for the former to perhaps $10,000 for the latter, in addition to the boiler, which can range from $7,200 to $13,125, Nichols said.

It could take five to 10 years to recoup your costs if you need to buy firewood and less time if you're cutting wood from your own property, Nichols said.

He said he uses six cords of wood year-round to heat his 3,000-square-foot house nearly exclusively.

Rockingham County forester Fred Borman III said recently that he saw seasoned firewood advertised for $350 a cord and wouldn't be surprised to see $400 by April.

The state Office of Energy and Planning listed home heating oil at $3.973 a gallon Tuesday, the most recent survey date. The Web site NewEnglandOil.com gave a New Hampshire average of $3.895 a gallon last week, down about 12 cents from the previous week. Neighbor's Oil in Plaistow listed a $3.659 price Friday.

An average house uses around 900 gallons a year, according to the Oil Heat Council of New Hampshire.

Nichols said indoor boilers don't need to meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards, but his meet the outdoor requirements.

Outdoor boilers burn wood to heat water that is then piped underground to a home to heat the building.

"Outdoor wood-fired hydronic heaters can be substantially dirtier and less efficient than most other home heating technologies," according to the EPA's Web site.

The EPA site said they "create heavy smoke and release it close to the ground, where it often lingers and exposes people in the area to nuisance conditions and health risks."

Pam Monroe is the state Department of Environmental Services compliance bureau administrator in the air resources division. She said the EPA has certified six different manufacturers for outdoor units. They are listed on EPA's Web site.

Starting Jan. 1, "you won't be able to sell some models that you can currently sell," Monroe said.

Before New Hampshire adopted the tougher standards, "I can tell you there were a lot of hearings on this and various dealers who testified," she said. "Legislators started getting a lot of complaints from their constituents."

Monroe said people now installing outdoor boilers must meet setback and stack height requirements.

Devoid, whose outdoor heaters don't meet the EPA requirements, said it doesn't seem right that people can still burn wood in fireplaces come 2009 but not his outdoor heaters.

"It's unfair for the consumer," he said.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

September 6, 2008

Winter heating can be environmentally friendly (OWBs mentioned)

 By John Frederick, for the Mirror

As the evenings turn cooler and football season enters its second weekend, many of us have thoughts of colder weather and our slide (literally and figuratively) into winter.

As we begin preparation, the high cost of heating oil, electricity and natural gas prompt us to think about ways to save.

Many more folks are looking at wood heat, either with the intention to use more or to use it for the first time.

If you have or plan to look into a pellet stove, not much preparation is necessary to use that source of heat early this winter.

It's a different story if you plan on using cut wood.

Wood needs a full year to dry adequately.

If you didn't cut and split your wood last winter or earlier, it should not be burnt.

"Green" wood is difficult to burn, will not burn as hot as seasoned wood, and gives off more smoke and creosote. The smoke can be especially bad with outdoor wood boilers because the combustion temperature is lower than in an efficient indoor wood stove.

Outdoor furnaces have been controversial in many communities, not just because of the smoke they generate but because they emit that smoke very close to ground level. Tests done by the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Manage-ment found that particle emissions (a particularly harmful pollutant) from an outdoor wood burner were much higher than those from indoor wood stoves certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Though the outdoor furnace industry contests NESCAUM's conclusions, several states have restricted the use of the boilers or recommended that the public consider other alternatives.

No matter what you use, remember that any burner that uses unseasoned wood or other unsuitable materials is more polluting. Burning "green" wood also produces more creosote that accumulates in the chimney. This is the most common cause of flu fires.

If you intend to increase or explore burning wood or pellets, remember these helpful hints and safety recommendations.

n Burn seasoned wood and minimize the amount of soft woods (like pine and spruce) that are especially potent creosote producers.

n Look for the most efficient wood burner you can afford when making a purchase. It may cost a bit more but will give you more heat per unit of wood.

n Plan for next year's burning season this year. It is best if most wood has a full year to dry.

n Don't burn trash in your furnace, stove, boiler or fireplace. Burning trash stinks and gives off a number of very unhealthy pollutants, several of which are proven cancer causers.

n It is important to keep plastic, especially vinyl, out of any fire. When chlorine-based materials (like vinyl plastic) are burned with lignin (found in wood-based materials) the very toxic dioxin is produced. While the particulates, carbon monoxide, benzene and formaldehyde generated by trash and wood fires are themselves serious concerns, dioxins may be the most alarming of the group.

Next time, we'll look at why such persistent, bioaccumulative, toxic chemicals are of such concern and try to better understand how we might continue to reduce their production and use in all parts of our lives.

John Frederick, executive director of Professional Recyclers of Pennsylvania in Bellwood, has been involved in environmental advocacy his entire career. His column runs every other Saturday. E-mail him at jfrederick@proprecycles.org.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

September 5, 2008

Chester weighs ban on heaters

Chester — The growing sales of alternative home heating technologies to combat high fuel costs is prompting the village to consider a moratorium on the installation and construction of outdoor wood heaters.

The temporary halt on permits is hoped to give the village enough time to discuss the use of the controversial devices before they proliferate, said John Orr, the village building inspector . "(The village) might decide when it's all done not to do anything, but it at least gives us the time to look at the issues," he said.

A public hearing on the moratorium is set for Monday at 7:15 p.m. at 47 Main St.

The heaters, which also go under the name "outdoor wood-fired hydronic heaters" and "outdoor wood boilers," heat liquid, usually water or anti-freeze, that is piped underground to buildings, providing heat and hot water. But their smoldering fires and short smokestacks create heavy smoke near the ground, creating potential health hazards, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The large furnaces also tempt users to illegally burn garbage and hazardous materials that release toxic fumes, regulators say.

A 2006 study by the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management in Boston, Mass., found that national sales of outdoor wood boilers have exploded by 30 percent to 128 percent per year since 2000, potentially adding 900,000 tons of particulate matter to the air by 2010.

Even when used properly, the devices release higher than normal levels of particulate matter, contributing to air pollution, regulators say.

Manufacturers of the devices claim that cleaner and more efficient models are being devised.

Vee Persaud, owner of Quickway Outdoor Furnace in Bloomingburg, said he began selling outdoor wood heaters three or four months ago in expectation of growing demand. He says he sells EPA-approved products, which release less smoke.

"There's not a drop of soot or anything in the air," he said.

The Town of Warwick passed restrictions on the use of the outdoor boilers in 2006, restricting the location of their use, the time period for burning, and the height of chimneys, which must be four feet above the owner's roof line.

Orr said his village has received a number of inquiries about the heaters, but has not yet issued any permits for them. "I'm not directly against these units, but as a municipality, we have to look for the betterment of the entire community," he said.

jsullivan@th-record.com

Full Article: CLICK HERE

September 5, 2008

DEP to offer buy-backs for wood boilers
Move aims to curb pollution from outdoor heating devices
 
By Kevin Miller
BDN Staff

State officials are preparing to launch a buy-back program aimed at removing outdoor wood boilers that are causing persistent air pollution problems for downwind neighbors.

Earlier this year, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection enacted new rules regulating the emissions of new outdoor wood boilers sold in the state. The new rules also set minimum setback requirements and smokestack height standards to reduce conflicts with neighboring property owners.

Now, the DEP is proposing a buy-back program that would target the most problematic boilers that have been deemed a nuisance or that pose a threat to public health or safety. The Board of Environmental Protection is expected to hold a public hearing on the issue next month — likely on Oct. 16 — and is soliciting feedback on the plan.

Ron Severance with the DEP’s Bureau of Air Quality said the boilers must have been installed before February 2008.

Additionally, homeowners first must exhaust all potential remedies to be eligible for up to $10,000 in replacement funds. Those steps include increasing the smokestack height or setback distances from neighboring structures and exploring potential retrofits to fix the emissions issues.

The DEP also will maintain a list that ranks problem boilers by the level of threat they have to public health or safety, and the boilers’ proximity to neighbors or sensitive populations.

“Rather than having them apply, we would go to number one on the list and make them an offer” to participate in the program, Severance said. That will allow the department to target the most serious cases first and then move as far down the list as money allows, Severance said.

State lawmakers directed the DEP to create the buy-back program in legislation passed earlier this year but did not fund it. A portion of the anticipated funding will come from violators of the state’s environmental laws who agree to deposit money into the program as part of their fines. Another source could be the state’s general fund.

Outdoor wood boilers, also known as outdoor wood-fired hydronic heaters, have surged in popularity in recent years as property owners explore cheaper alternatives to heating oil or propane.

The furnaces are housed in small, shedlike buildings that pump hot water through underground pipes to a nearby home or structure for use as hot water or in heating systems. Boilers often can operate all day on just one or two loads of seasoned firewood, thanks to a feature that allows the owner to “damper down” the unit by reducing oxygen flow.

But that feature allows smoke and creosote to build up on the walls of the firebox. The pollutants then are released out of the smokestack when the fire is reinvigorated.

The DEP has received dozens of complaints in recent years from people who claim a boiler on a nearby property is filling their homes, businesses or even schools with potentially harmful smoke. Boiler owners and manufacturers say the contraptions generate about as much smoke and soot as many modern indoor wood stoves when properly operated and maintained.

The rules enacted earlier this year prohibit dealers from selling boilers that emit more than 0.6 pounds of particulate matter per million British thermal units, or Btu, contained in the wood fuel. The emissions level would drop to 0.32 pounds of particulate matter, or soot, per million Btu in April 2010.

Louis Fontaine, who heads the DEP’s air quality inspections program, said the department has seen an increase in complaints filed this summer because more people are using the boilers for hot water.

“We’ve found the biggest problem is people burning wet wood,” Fontaine said. “When you burn wet wood, you are using more of that wood to burn off the moisture.”

Edward Miller, chief executive officer of the American Lung Association of Maine, said the number of complaints his office hears has dropped off. Miller said some of that decline might be due to the seasonal use of the boilers or to the fact that more people are taking their concerns directly to the DEP.

His organization supports the buy-back program for the most problematic boilers.

“There really are no villains here,” Miller said. “People didn’t buy these with the intention to endanger their neighbors.”

 Full Article:CLICK HERE

 

September 4, 2008

Outlook Good For Litchfield (OWBs regulation mentioned)
by Kyle Herschelman

The final two speakers prior to the council voting on the consent agenda were in attendance to talk about the proposed restrictions on outdoor wood boilers (OWB).

Scott Kieffer told the council that with the rise in heating costs, he believed that they should not stand in the way of people trying to heat their homes. Kieffer, whose company sells the boilers, stated that he felt the council should be for the people and allow them to heat the homes efficiently.

Brian Hollo, who owns one of the boilers, brought pictures of his boiler to show the council. Hollo mentioned that his boiler currently has a 12 foot tall stove pipe and he would be willing to add another four feet to the pipe.

He also mentioned that he didn’t know how he would add enough pipe to fit the city’s regulations if the council made it mandatory that the pipe be four feet over the tallest point of the roof. Hollo’s roof measures approximately 30 feet, meaning he would have to add 22 feet to current pipe.

Mike Houlihan, who was in favor of banning the boilers, was scheduled to speak but declined prior to the start of the meeting.

Later on in the meeting, the council would vote to approve “Plan B” on the OWB issue, which would force OWB owners to follow strict guidelines and obtain a permit, by a 7-1 margin with Alderman Harold Ellinger voting no. Prior to the passing vote, the council voted not to approve “Plan A”, that would have banned the OWBs entirely, by a 6-2 margin with Aldermen Bill Dees and Gene Cailey voting to prohibit the boilers.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

September 4, 2008

Belding City Council bans outdoor wood burners

By FRANK KONKEL
Sentinel-Standard writer

BELDING - Belding has banned outdoor wood boilers (OWBs).

On Tuesday, for the second time in two weeks, the Belding City Council voted on whether or not OWBs would be permitted within city limits.

This time, rather than send the ordinance back to the planning commission for further discussion as it did on Aug. 19, the council unanimously voted to ban OWBs all together.

The decision comes after the council examined the ordinance and agreed it merited further discussion just two weeks ago; however, the planning commission sent the ordinance back to the city Tuesday with no revisions.

It was a controversial decision.

On one hand, city officials, including Belding Planning Commission chairman Merrill Russell, said OWBs are a health hazard and shouldn't be allowed in city limits. On the contrary, OWB enthusiasts like Matt Alberts believe they should have the right to install an OWB, especially if they aren't receiving complaints.

“I was for the banning because if everyone can get [OWBs], all it's gonna do is make a conflict,” said Russell, who answered questions from council members Tuesday. “We were going to ban them one way or the other. This is the easiest, simplest way to do it.”

Zoning administrator Roger May said that though the ban will go into effect in 10 days, residents will always have the right to an appeal through the Belding Zoning Board of Appeals.



If a resident feels he or she has a larger lot - one where lingering smoke from an OWB wouldn't directly affect neighbors - May said those residents can appeal the ordinance and potentially be allowed to purchase an OWB.

Still, those options don't sit well with some. Alberts, a Belding resident, has owned and used his OWB for years without nary a complaint, and he's saved thousands of dollars in heating bills, too. Under the ordinance, owners of OWBs will be allowed to keep their OWBs, but they won't be allowed to replace them should they fail.

“I think it's ridiculous, the whole boiler thing is that you're cleaning the woods up, you're not depending on fossil fuels or natural gas, it's better for the environment,” Alberts said. “From what I've seen, this whole ordeal is based on false, outdated information. It's not right, it's like, ‘why?'”

Belding officials admit that nobody has complained specifically about OWBs, but residents have complained about smoke. With the rising cost of fuel, it's not uncommon for residents to look at other alternatives to heating their homes, but Belding certainly doesn't want to be a city layered in smoke.

“The whole secret is this is more a health issue than anything else,” Russell said. “There's a lot of people who physically can't stand the smoke.”

On Tuesday, Aug. 19, council members asked May at the city council meeting if an outright ban was the right idea. After all, residents like Joanie Huddleston, who owns an 18-acre lot, voiced their opinion against the ban.

“I think it's a little premature to ban them altogether,” Huddleston told the council. “I know lots of people that have large lots and are far enough away from neighbors that their burners wouldn't be a problem.”

Still, Russell said an outright ban was the best way to diffuse the situation.

“There are other options we could have taken,” said Russell, referring to potentially allowing large lots to have OWBs. “But we have probably 35 parcels that may meet requirements, the majority of our lots wouldn't. It only makes sense we go with the majority and do the banning.”

Full Article: CLICK HERE

September 1, 2008

Outdoor wood boilers regulated

By JACOB RESNECK
Contributing Writer

September 02, 2008 04:14 pm

SARANAC LAKE -- Two out of three villages in the Tri-Lakes now restrict outdoor wood boilers.
Both Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake held public hearings and passed laws last week restricting the outdoor furnaces.
Outdoor wood boilers have become increasingly popular in northern states, especially as the price of heating oil rises. The wood-burning furnaces can be connected to boilers to heat hot water or radiators. But many outdoor wood boilers emit plumes of heavy smoke, which can be a nuisance for neighbors, especially in densely populated areas.
Saranac Lake has adopted a number of setbacks and chimney-height requirements, while Tupper Lake has banned them outright.
The two or three outdoor furnaces existing in the Village of Tupper Lake will likely not be affected as long as they conform to the manufacturer's recommended chimney height, according to the new law.
Only two people spoke at Tupper Lake's public hearing arguing that their outdoor wood boilers are actually safer than indoor furnaces, said Mayor Mickey Desmarais.
Desmarais quoted a 2005 Attorney General's report that calls for the regulation of outdoor wood boilers.
"One of the biggest problems with the outdoor wood boilers, they emit on average per hour about four times as much fine-particulate matter as a regular wood stove," Desmarais said. "And the more of these you put in, the more it's going to affect your neighbor. And before they become a problem we just wanted to stop them for now."
Meanwhile in Saranac Lake, trustees unanimously passed a law that creates setbacks and chimney-height requirements but does not ban outdoor wood boilers.
Saranac Lake Mayor Tom Michael said the process began with a resident's complaint about a neighbor's outdoor boiler.
"She had a picture of some pretty heavy smoke conditions," Michael said. "That's what initiated the review process." Saranac Lake's new law requires a 25-foot setback from the property line. The chimney must be at least two feet higher than any house within 100 feet of the boiler, as long as the total height doesn't exceed 35 feet.
Saranac Lake's Community Development Director Jeremy Evans said the village researched laws in other municipalities around the country and talked to industry groups to tailor the local law.
"The Village Board wanted to develop a regulation that would allow boilers in the village when appropriate," Evans said. "We looked at a number of different states and these industry recommendations to come up with our law."
Lake Placid has no law on the books addressing outdoor wood boilers, but that could change.
The Town of North Elba and Village of Lake Placid are working on revising their joint land-use code that may address outdoor wood boilers.
A series of public information sessions and a formal hearing will likely be held toward the end of the year, said Lake Placid Village Trustee Pat Gallagher who has been helping craft language for the new code.
"We've been following what Tupper did and what Saranac Lake has done, too. It could come to where we do have to ban them also. But we aren't ready to make that decision yet."

Full Article: CLICK HERE

August 31, 2008

Elizabethtown wood boilers looked at

By ALVIN REINER
Staff Writer

August 31, 2008 04:00 am

ELIZABETHTOWN -- Unlike the emissions that can emanate from outdoor wood boilers (OWBs), the Elizabethtown Town Council is trying to make whatever policy is enacted be clear and enforceable.
Like other North Country communities, Elizabethtown is faced with creating a policy or deciding whether or not to allow OWBs, the use of which has greatly multiplied throughout the county in the past 10 years.
OWBs are large fireplaces or boilers set apart from the building being heated. Water is heated, generally by burning wood, but other fuels such as coal can be used. The water is then piped to and through the dwelling or business.
As Supervisor Noel Merrihew prefaced the council's workshop, the intention is to present a document available for a public hearing in order to receive input.
Councilman Phil Hutchins reiterated that, "What we do tonight will make a document for the people to look at, and then come to a public hearing. The other option is to ban them (OWBs) completely."
Merrihew informed those present that the APA is looking at enacting some legislation which would affect the areas outside of hamlets such as Elizabethtown. "It is our responsibility to take some action. We are looking for a template for setbacks and enforceable regulations."
Referring to wood stoves used within dwellings, Hutchins said, "It's not a big issue what they burn, unless they are crazy." He indicated that virtually all homeowners who have indoor wood stoves use seasoned, untreated woods, as they don't want complications such as creosote build-up. Before a new wood stove is installed in a building, it requires a permit for safety and environmental controls.
The council utilized several guideline models from other communities, especially that of Champion, N.Y., in attempting to formulate a possible policy.
As far as specifications being considered to alleviate problems with neighboring homes, the building housing the OWB would have a setback of at least 50 feet, and the chimney be extended at least two feet above the neighboring eaves line. The council is also considering that no OWB be within 200 feet, or possibly as much as 500 feet, of a hospital, nursing home, or educational facility such as ELCS or Stepping Stones preschool.
As far as how the boiler is housed, as long as it is structurally sound and up to building codes, it won't make much of a difference.
"You can put the Taj Mahal around it, but it's still an outdoor furnace," Hutchins said.
Councilman Kenneth Fenimore wanted to know about government regulations as to how the OWBs burn and what pollutants are emitted. Merrihew responded that the term, "opaqueness," or how dark and thick the smoke is has been used as a measurement.
Other aspects of the meeting had to do with terminology, such as suspension or revocation, what fines might be imposed. The policy will consider the length of the season which might run from Oct. 1 to May 1.
Merrihew will be taking the information from the workshop and drafting a preliminary plan which the council will review Wednesday at 7 p.m. If approved by the Town Council, the proposal will be available to the public for several weeks. This will be followed by a public hearing which will allow concerned citizens to give input, and then a decision will be made for the next step. Elizabethtown will continue with its moratorium on new OWBs until a policy is decided upon.
A source of information on OWBs may be obtained at woodheat.org which provides a link to the 2005 state report on OWBs.
rondackrambler@yahoo.com

Full Article: CLICK HERE

August 29, 2008

City shuts down wood furnaces

By Jennifer Huberdeau, North Adams Transcript
NORTH ADAMS -- All outdoor wood-burning furnaces must be shut down, and new units cannot be installed under a moratorium issued by the City Council on Tuesday night.

"Several communities in the state have banned these furnaces or created ordinances that heavily restrict where and how they can be located," said Councilor Richard J. Alcombright, who brought forward the resolution for the moratorium. "Adams and West Springfield have banned the use altogether. These wood furnaces can create a lot of smoke and air pollutants. In North Adams, we have many postage-stamp-size lots built on the side of hills, and this could pose health issues for our neighborhoods."

The council approved the ban, 7 to 1, with Councilor Clark H. Billings, who opposed the wording of the resolution, voting against it. Councilor Marie T. Harpin was absent.

Alcombright said the outdoor furnaces resemble small sheds or large dog houses and are connected to a home's heating and hot water system through underground pipes.

"These wood-burning furnaces can fill a whole neighborhood with smoke," Councilor Michael C. Bloom said. "The smokestacks are only about 12 to 15 inches high, and once the damper is closed, smoke can fill a yard and neighborhood for hours."

He said he had researched the outdoor units for personal use.

"These units can cost between $7,000 to $8,000 and then another $8,000 to $9,000 for the installation of

pipes," Bloom said. "We're probably saving some people money by putting in a temporary ban while we figure out what to do with these units."

The council's public safety subcommittee and the city's Board of Health and Department of Public Safety have been charged with drafting permanent regulations on outdoor wood-burning furnaces.

Bloom said other problems he has heard of include owners burning unseasoned wood, garbage and even rubber in the furnaces.

"They can create horrible smells as well," he said. "You see these units popping up along Route 2 and Route 8 as you head north. They're on property that has a few acres, where I'm sure they work well. But not in a city with close neighborhoods like ours."

Alcombright said he had heard of only one wood-burning furnace in the city, but he had yet to determine where it was or even if it existed.

Mayor John Barrett III said he believed the units would currently fall under the city's wood-stove permits.

"I will advise our people not to issue any permits for these outdoor wood furnaces in the interim," he said.

Councilor Ronald Boucher said he was concerned that the moratorium could prevent anyone currently using the outdoor units from heating their homes.

"With the cold weather approaching, I think we need to act quickly on this one," he said. "My only objection would be the person who has the unit and has purchased eight or nine cords of wood for the winter. I'd hate to tell a person they couldn't heat their home after making a substantial investment."

Councilor Gailanne Cariddi said any ordinance could be crafted to grandfather existing units and set specific regulations regarding what could be burned.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

August 28, 2008

Hot dogs and outside boilers are on the agenda tonight at city council committee meetings

By Sentinel Staff
Published: Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hot dogs won’t be the only items on the plate tonight for two Keene City Council committees — traffic, and outdoor wood-fired boilers are on the agenda, too.

The 7 p.m. meeting will see discussion concerning time limitations for food stands and regulations for outdoor wood-fired boilers.

Councilors will also look at an ordinance limiting where outdoor wood-fired boilers can be placed or requiring the boilers not to emit as much smoke.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

August 27, 2008

N.A. Council Eyes Scooter Limits, Wood Furnace Ban

By Tammy Daniels - August 27, 2008
iBerkshires Staff

The council also approved a resolution declaring a moratorium on the installation of outdoor-wood furnaces.

Alcombright brought the issue to the council over concerns that the energy crisis may prompt residents to buy the furnaces, which emit air pollutants. Adams banned the furnaces last year.

It was not known if any wood furnaces were operating in North Adams and the mayor cautioned that the council should take any possible existing furnaces into consideration when crafting a ban or limitations. The "infernal machines," as Billings called them, can cost up to $14,000 installed.

"My intention is not to support a ban at this point in time but to suspend their installation and operation until we can get our arms around the health and public safety issues that are relevant," Alcombright said.

Other municipalities have found the furnaces being used as incinerators, too, for trash and inappropriate materials that can give off toxins.

Billings objected that he didn't believe the council had a right to "declare" anything at this point, that "support" would be a better word.

Marden countered that the council "can declare all we want, but I don't know if anyone listens."

The resolution was approved 7-1 with Billings voting no; the issue was also referred to the Public Safety Committee for review. Councilor Marie Harpin was not in attendance.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

August 27, 2008

Mahanoy Township passes outdoor burner ordinance

BY LESLIE RICHARDSON
STAFF WRITER
lrichardson@republicanherald.com
Published: Wednesday, August 27, 2008 4:27 AM EDT

MAHANOY CITY — The Mahanoy Township supervisors approved an ordinance Aug. 14 regulating various heating systems.

“Because of all of the people going to alternative fuel, we had to put something in place to regulate the outside burners,” Mahanoy Township Supervisor Jim Stevens said Tuesday. “It’s not that you can’t have them, there are just regulations you need to follow.”

The law covers external fuel-burning appliances and external heating devices, along with internal fireplaces, coal stoves, gas, wood pellet and corn alternative heat systems.

In some communities, residents have expressed concerns about smokestacks, air pollution and potential odors, and municipalities across the country are considering regulations. The City of Pottsville, Saint Clair and Girardville boroughs and Butler and Ryan townships are among them.

According to the Mahanoy Township ordinance, the regulations are “for the health, safety and general welfare and the cleanliness, beauty, convenience, comfort and safety for the residents of the Township of Mahanoy.”

The township defines outdoor fuel-burning appliances as “any device including furnace, stove or boiler designed and constructed to burn solid fuels including wood, coal or other solid fuel manufactured for placement outdoors for the heating of a structure.”

An outdoor fuel burner using a heat pump or solar energy, electric, oil, propane, gas or natural gas is not included in the definition.

The outdoor burner must be no fewer than 50 feet from the nearest property line, may not burn material other than fuels approved by the manufacturer of the burner and approved by the Uniform Commercial Code and have a flue or chimney with a minimum termination height of 15 feet above ground level.

All indoor and outdoor fuel burners installed after Aug. 14 must be inspected by the building inspection underwriters code official and permits will be issued to operate the burner.

“There are regulations you need to follow to make sure there are no fires or other problems with them,” Stevens said.

Any outdoor fuel burner already in place need not be removed if it passes a safety inspection.

Anyone violating the ordinance could be fined $200 to $1,000 and $25 per day until the violation corrected.

“This is something we are doing as a precaution. We haven’t had any problems with them, but if there is a problem, residents can call the township office,” Stevens said. “If it’s not right, it’s not right and will have to be fixed. If there is no problem, then it can continue to be used. We just want to ensure the safety of all of our residents.”

The ordinance states that township residences and businesses are entitled to clean air and environmental circumstances free of unreasonable dust, obnoxious odors and noxious fumes and smells, as well as an environment free of stored debris and the storage of combustible solid fuels in adjacent or exposed exterior areas within densely populated areas.

According to the ordinance, outdoor fuel burning appliances cause emission problems that cross property lines because smoke stays close to the ground and it can easily reach people working or playing outdoors or even penetrate neighboring buildings.

It can also cause problems with smoke visibility and low lying smoke can worsen cardiovascular problems, irritate the lungs or eyes, trigger headaches, and worsen respiratory diseases.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

August 27, 2008

Hearings on ice cream parlor and outdoor wood-burners

VERONA-

In an unrelated matter, at 7:45 p.m. a second hearing will be held on the consideration of a law pertaining to outdoor fuel-burning appliances, such as wood-burning stoves/boilers. According to the legal notice, town officials said there have been some concerns raised by residents about safety because of the close proximity of such devices to their property. Residents are also concerned about the environmental impact, the notice said.

The law, if passed, would require that a resident apply for a permit to own and operate the outdoor fuel-burning device. As part of the regulations, residents will also be limited on the type of fuel used to operate the devices, the location of the devices and the composition of the emissions generated by burning the fuel.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

August 26, 2008

Tupper Lake Village Board bans outdoor wood boilers

By NATHAN BROWN, Enterprise Staff Writer

TUPPER LAKE - The village board voted unanimously to ban outdoor wood boilers at its regular meeting Monday evening.

The three existing ones in the village will be grandfathered in. Normal repairs and maintenance can be done to them, but they cannot be upgraded or replaced, and they may not be repaired if they are damaged more than 75 percent.

Village attorney Doug Wright said the ban is necessary because the larger particles produced by outdoor wood boilers can damage the lungs. Also, he said, "It is impossible to regulate what gets put in the furnaces." Some people, he said, use them to burn garbage.

Village Mayor Mickey Desmarais said the construction of a wood boiler means the temperature of the wood never exceeds 1,000 degrees.

"Outdoor wood boilers are surrounded by a jacket of water," he said. Therefore, the wood does not burn as cleanly or as efficiently, and the smoldering fire produces "more particles and pollution."

"When you burn wood properly, it puts it back into the atmosphere to help the trees grow," said village Trustee Tim Larkin. This, he said, is what happens with a fireplace, which burns closer to 2,000 degrees and also has a higher chimney.

With a wood boiler, however, "The chimneys are low," Wright said. "It affects your neighbors quite a bit more."

Communities that allow wood boilers, he said, often require them to be at least 200 feet from a structure on anyone else's property for this reason. However, few homes are more than 200 feet away from any other in the village.

Desmarais and Larkin said the law may have to be amended in the future if wood boilers become more efficient or environmentally friendly.

Two members of the public showed up to the meeting, Norman and Nancy McFall. Their home is heated with an outdoor wood boiler.

Village Trustee Marvin Madore recommended they "be proactive and approach the board" if their boiler needs to be replaced and if a more environmentally friendly option is available.

Norman said downdrafts can also be an issue with a normal chimney. And Nancy pointed out that wood boilers are safer from fire than regular fireplaces.

Contact Nathan Brown at 891-2600 ext. 26 or nbrown@adirondackdailyenterprise.com.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

August 20, 2008

Jay set to discuss outside wood boilers

JAY -- The Town of Jay is looking for residents to serve on an ad hoc committee regarding possible regulations covering outside wood boilers.

The committee would be divided into four people who feel supportive of regulations and four who do not.

The committee will begin to meet in September and provide the Town Council with the results of its fact-finding by Jan. 1.

"I have gathered stacks of information regarding outside wood boilers, attended state meetings, met with the New York State DEC, acquired local laws from numerous towns throughout the state," Town Supervisor Randy Douglas said in a statement. "And our town board held a public-information meeting in September 2008 with over 100 people in attendance.

"I have spoken with representatives from some of the biggest outside-wood-boiler manufacturers in the country, and I will work with this committee to provide them with the information so they can make an informed recommendation to the town board."

Douglas said he and the Town Council members feel they "have researched this outdoor-wood-boiler situation thoroughly, but we wanted the ad hoc committee to provide any additional information we may have missed.

"We wanted to make an informed decision that hopefully will allow our constituents to continue with alternate heat sources during these difficult economic times but also keeping in mind their health and safety, as well as their neighbors."

Anyone wishing to serve on this committee is asked to call Douglas at 647-2204.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

August 19, 2008

Belding puts wood boiler ban on back-burner

By FRANK KONKEL
Sentinel-Standard writer

BELDING - Tuesday's Belding City Council meeting may have lacked City Manager Randall DeBruine and Mayor Shane Husted - both were on vacation - but it certainly didn't lack for a lively discussion during public comment.

The Belding City Council voted to send an ordinance that would ban outdoor wood boilers (OWBs) within city limits back to the planning commission.

After hearing several citizen questions and comments, the board decided an outright ban on OWBs would be too restrictive.

“I think sending it back to [the planning commission] makes sense,” said council member Rick Stout, who carefully measured the pros and cons such an ordinance would create. “There isn't really any flexibility in the language.”

The planning commission began researching the potential ordinance back in January, learning that bans on OWBs are common in several state and national areas, though zoning administrator Roger May said no one in city limits has actually complained about OWBs.

Still, the commission determined the health risks - chiefly harmful particle emissions - coupled with the nuisance of lingering smoke warranted some type of ordinance.

In the language presented to the council, the ordinance would effectively have banned the purchase of any new OWBs within city limits.

Current owners of OWBs would be permitted to keep theirs, but would not be allowed to replace it.

 

“There's been a lot of discussion and differing opinions on this,” May said. “First and foremost, we did look at property rights, but there are potential problems from wood boilers.”

However, citizens voiced their discomfort with such an encompassing measure. Matt Alberts, one of three owners of OWBs in Belding city limits, has repeatedly voiced his displeasure publicly with any ban on his chief method of home heating.

Others, like Belding resident Joanie Huddleston, believe that while an ordinance might be a good idea, there needs to be room for exceptions.

“I think it's a little premature to ban them altogether,” said Huddleston, who lives on an 18-acre lot. “I know lots of people that have large lots and are far enough away from neighbors that their burners wouldn't be a problem.”

Central Boiler, a large manufacturer of OWBs, recommends a common-sense approach to installing OWBs. Depending on the circumstances, Central Boiler vice president Rodney Tollefson said OWBs need between 50-ft and 100-ft between residences when installed properly and to burn proper, dried wood.

Language in the city's ordinance quoted manufacturers as recommending a minimum of 300-ft between residences.

“It's similar to other things you might install,” Tollefson said. “For instance, you wouldn't put a pool 10-ft away from someone else's property.”

Tollefson also noted that a number of cities actually request assistance from Central Boiler in reasonably regulating OWBs, though misinformation frequently becomes rampant.

According to Tollefson, when implemented properly, OWBs are an intelligent, affordable, viable source of heat.

“Wood heat is a very important part of people's economics,” Tollefson said. “It's important for people to retain wood as an economic choice.”

After dialogue between concerned citizens and council members, acting Mayor Roger Wills called for a vote to send the measure back to the planning commission, which could mean at least 45 days before the revised issue returns to council attention.

Until then, at least, Belding OWB owners are free to do as they please.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

August 17, 2008

NH sets standards for outdoor wood boilers

CONCORD, N.H. --New Hampshire has set new standards for outdoor wood boilers, after a growing number of complaints.

A new state law requires homeowners who use boilers that are installed as of this month to consider the distance between the devices and their neighbors. Newer models will also have to meet tightened emission standards starting next year.

The Department of Environmental Services says the state, with the help of municipalities, will also restrict or shut down already-installed boilers if they continue to choke neighbors with black smoke.

More people are using the wood-fired boilers to beat high energy prices. A boiler typically sits in a small shed outside a house. It heats water and carries the energy through pipes to warm the building.

But neighbors say the boilers produce a thick, black smoke that aggravates lung conditions and ruins clothing.

The new law will phase in the tougher standards.

Owners of existing boilers don't have to move them, but if they are deemed a nuisance or health hazard, the state or community will "abate" the problem or require the boiler be shut down if the problem can't be remedied, DES said.

A boiler purchased and installed between now and January that doesn't meet federal emission standards must be no closer than 200 feet from a neighboring building. It must also have a permanent stack at least two feet higher than the peak of roofs of buildings within 300 feet.

As of 2009, any wood boilers sold must meet the federal particulate emission standard and meet the 200-foot distance and 2-foot stack requirements.

By 2010, all units sold must meet the .32 pounds standard and will be able to be installed no closer than 50 feet to a neighboring property line, with the thinking that they will be less polluting.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

August 17, 2008

New law keeps wood boilers at a distance

By ALBERT McKEON, Staff Writer
amckeon@nashuatelegraph.com

With a growing number of people using them and a nearly equal amount of people complaining about them, the state has set new standards for outdoor wood boilers.

A new state law requires homeowners who use boilers that are installed as of this month to consider the distance between the devices and their neighbors. Newer models will also have to meet tightened emission standards starting next year.

The state, with the help of municipalities, will also curtail or shut down existing boilers if they continue to choke neighbors with black smoke, the Department of Environmental Services said.

"We would wake up in the middle of night coughing and have to go around our home and close the windows," said Hanover resident David Cole, an attorney who won a temporary court injunction to stop his neighbor from using a wood boiler.

While pleased the state will tighten emissions standards for the boilers, Cole thinks it's still not enough.

Even when considering the impending emissions standards, a wood boiler will still release a large amount of soot, Cole said. And he doubts municipalities will enforce the law, citing his town's supposed reluctance to deal with his neighbor.

But Pam Monroe, a DES compliance bureau administrator, said state officials hope the new law will make wood boilers less problematic.

The use of wood-fired boilers has increased with the prices of home-heating oil and other energy sources.

A boiler typically sits in a small shed outside a house. It heats water and carries the energy through pipes to warm the building.

But neighbors of those who use them find fault with the smoke released into the air. The boilers produce a thick, black smoke that aggravates lung conditions and ruins clothing, they say.

The American Lung Association has also weighed in. Donald Mahler, a doctor and state ALA board member, wrote in a Concord Monitor opinion piece that wood boilers emit 10 times more particles than the accepted standard for wood stoves.

In a nutshell, the new law will phase in the tougher standards, with the idea that phasing in the changes will make it easier for users, manufacturers and sellers.

Owners of existing units don't have to move the boilers, but if they are deemed a nuisance or health hazard, the state or municipality will "abate" the problem or require the boiler be shut down if the problem can't be remedied, DES said.

A boiler purchased and installed between now and January that doesn't meet federal emission standards must be no closer than 200 feet from a neighboring building. It must also have a permanent stack at least two feet higher than the peak of roofs of buildings within 300 feet.

As of 2009, any wood boilers sold must meet the federal particulate emission standard of 0.6 pounds per million BTU input or .32 pounds of MMBTU output. These boilers must also meet the 200-foot distance and 2-foot stack requirements.

And as of 2010, all units sold must meet the .32 pounds standard. These boilers can be installed somewhat closer to a neighboring property line – no closer than 50 feet – with the thinking that they will be less polluting.

Rick Devoid, manager of Northwood Power in Enfield, said the new standards shouldn't harm his business' sale of wood boilers.

The burden of improving the devices is on the manufacturers, he said.

Northwood Power sells wood boilers "faster than they get in" because of climbing energy costs, Devoid said. "If (homeowners) have access to wood, they're very economical. The return on them is less than a year," he said.

But Cole said that aside from creating environmental and health risks, wood boilers are inefficient. Whereas an oil burner wastes about 15 percent of its energy in a chimney, a wood boiler loses about 55 percent, he said.

Albert McKeon can be reached at 594-5832 or amckeon@nashuatelegraph.com.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

August 16, 2008

Council recommends moratorium on outdoor wood-burning furnaces

Written by Jane K. Dove   
Saturday, August 16, 2008
The town’s Conservation Advisory Council (CAC) supports the Town Board’s planned move to impose a moratorium on the installation of outdoor wood burning furnaces in Lewisboro.

The need for a moratorium came to light recently when town Building Inspector Peter Barrett told officials on Monday night that he had issued permits for two of the devices, which are growing increasingly popular in upstate New York.

He recommended the town consider a moratorium before making additions to the Town Code to address the use of the furnaces. At present, they are not mentioned.

Officials will hold a public hearing in advance of making a decision on imposing a moratorium.

A wood-burning furnace looks like a small tool shed and is placed adjacent to the home. It uses underground piping to pass hot water into the home’s main heating system.

Town Board members asked the CAC to review information on the devices and Janet Anderson, CAC chairman, appeared at Monday night’s work session to provide input. There were only two board members at the session — not a quorum — so it was not considered a board meeting and the members there couldn’t take any action.

Ms. Anderson said the CAC shared Mr. Barrett’s concern about the potential environmental impact of the widespread use of these unregulated furnaces, especially if installed on small residential lots.

Legislation is lacking

“Federal and state regulations are lacking,” she said. “We sent you an Aug. 5 memo recommending a moratorium be considered. This will give us time to investigate and understand the effects of the furnaces.”

Ms. Anderson said one of the major drawbacks to the use of the furnaces is the smoke they emit. “When they are not actually burning wood, they smolder, creating smoky conditions,” she said.

Mr. Brancati said he supported a moratorium.

“I understand the economics involved,” he said. “But I think the use of an indoor wood-burning stove, which is very efficient and compact, would be a better choice for heating.”

Town Attorney Jessica Bacal said she had contacted officials from other municipalities to see if they had any regulations.

“They didn’t even know what I was talking about,” she said.

Mr. Brancati thanked the CAC for their input. “I appreciate your taking a look at this,” he said. “We hope the CAC and the building department will work with us on this to develop the needed local legislation.”

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

August 15, 2008

Outdoor furnaces under fire in some municipalities


 

A municipal ordinance has snuffed a Salisbury man’s outdoor furnace use.

Keith Welch said he has been made to convert his heating source back to a petroleum or natural gas base — a move some said will benefit the health of others living in the small town.

Welch said he has been heating his Victorian-style home with an outdoor furnace for 15 years and by doing so has saved thousands of dollars.

The same topic has been discussed at municipal meetings across the county. Furnace owners tout the alternative energy source as a way to save money while others see the outdoor burners and the smoke they produce as a health risk.

“Safety is not the issue,” Welch said. “It is personal preference.”

Salisbury Borough Council President Lawrence Cogley declined to comment on the matter.

Suzanne Horner-Hay, a Somerset County Building Inspections code enforcer, worked with Welch and borough officials when their disagreement heated up.

“I think there has to be some kind of rules and regulations to them,” she said. “Short smoke stacks can permeate households nearby.”

That was one of the reasons Welch was shut down under a code that Hay believes includes a grandfather clause for existing furnaces.

“He was willing to work with the borough and shut down and go to an alternative heating source,” Hay said.

She said Salisbury began prohibiting the construction and operation of outdoor furnaces in December.

“I have been fighting this thing for about two years,” said Welch, who estimated that about 10 other people in town have outdoor furnaces. “They have completely banned them.”

Jefferson and Somerset townships are other county municipalities regulating outdoor furnace use.

Confluence Borough briefly considered banning them earlier this year because of accusations the owners were burning garbage and railroad ties causing a noxious odor to linger in town. Officials eventually decided against the ban because of the cost savings outdoor furnace users reported.

Residents in Jefferson Township and Confluence Borough reported savings of up to $3,000 per year in heating costs with outdoor furnaces.

Before he used an outdoor furnace, Welch said he spent between $400 and $500 a month on natural gas to heat his home. He spent about $800 a year to fuel his outdoor furnace, he said.

“I have talked to (state lawmakers),” Welch said, citing their recent push to find fossil fuel alternatives. “They say it is a municipality decision.”

State Rep. Bob Bastian said he has an outdoor furnace on his Somerset Township property. And he said his heat source meets township code.

“Go lobby your local municipality,” he said, noting that the decision is made on a local level.

“They are a great alternative energy source,” he added. “But do you want to breath somebody else’s smoke?”

For now, Welch’s furnace is cold and he is searching for another way to heat his home.

“The oldest form of heat known to man is wood,” Welch said. “Try breathing in what is coming out of a gas furnace.”

(Rick Kazmer can be reached at rickk@dailyamerican.com. Comment on the online story at www.dailyamerican.com.)

Full Article: CLICK HERE

August 14, 2008

New law regulating outdoor wood boilers goes into effect

CONCORD — A new law applying to outdoor wood boilers (also known as outdoor wood-fired hydronic heaters) has gone into effect, the state Department of Environmental Services has announced.

Those who already own an outdoor wood boiler or are thinking about purchasing one should know about HB 1405 (Chapter 362, Laws of N.H. 2007) of which certain provisions went into effect on Sunday. The law establishes requirements for the sale, installation and use of the devices.

As of Sunday, clean wood and wood boilers that are purchased and installed after that day and before next Jan. 1, and do not meet certain particulate emission standards as certified by the U. S. EPA, must meet two conditions. First, they must be installed no closer than 200 feet from abutting residence. Second, they must have a permanent attached stack that is at least two feet higher than the peak of the roof of a residence or place of business (not served by the unit) located within 300 feet of the outdoor wood boiler.

Also, all distributors and sellers of outdoor wood boilers are required to provide prospective buyers with a copy of the new law.

Owners of existing outdoor wood boilers that are deemed a nuisance or injurious to public health by either the municipality or the Department of Health and Human Services will now be required to take corrective action. DES will provide technical assistance to the municipality and the Department of Health and Human Services if this situation arises.

In addition to the requirements listed above, after Jan. 1, 2009, the only outdoor wood boiler models that can be sold in New Hampshire are those certified by the U.S. EPA as meeting a Phase I particulate matter emission limit of 0.6 pounds per million British Thermal Units input or a stricter Phase II particulate emission limit of 0.32 pound/MMBTU output.

Effective April 1, 2010, all units must meet the Phase II standard in order to be sold in the state. Units that meet the Phase I or Phase II EPA standards will be labeled accordingly.

Phase I units must be installed no closer than 100 feet from the nearest property line and have a permanent attached stack of two feet higher than the peak of the roof or place of business (not served by the unit) located within 300 feet of the unit. Phase II units must be installed no closer than 50 feet from the nearest property line.

DES recommends that individuals who currently own and operate outdoor wood boilers follow best management practices for operation.

People considering purchasing an outdoor wood boiler are urged to purchase the newest and cleanest-burning units available.

A complete list of certified makes and models is on the EPA website, www.epa.gov/woodheaters/models.htm.

For questions about New Hampshire's requirements and how they might apply to you, call Pamela Monroe at the DES, 271-0882.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

August 13, 2008 (video)

Talk to 21 Update: Outdoor water boiler ordinance

Reported by: Ben Russell
Email: benrussell@cbs21.com
Last Update: 8/13 4:53 pm

A proposed ordinance would put restrictions on outdoor water boilers, or outdoor fuel burning appliances. They are essentially a firebox in the backyard that burns wood to heat your home, or your water.

The EPA believes the particulate matter these things put out is far beyond that of a normal chimney.

This action by the borough has two sides feeling completely different.

Stuart Witmer's outdoor water boiler was not running Tuesday, but if a proposed ordinance goes through, Witmer would need a permit. It wouldn't be allowed to run in the summer at all, and scrubbers would be put in place to limit its exhaust.

“I think it was pretty well drafted, except that I’d like to see them banned completely,” Heidi Koppenhaver tells CBS 21.

The Koppenhaver's shot video earlier this summer, and say it shows plumes of smoke pouring from their neighbor, Stuart Witmer's, water boiler. And when we showed the video last month, it made the Witmers upset.

CBS 21 brought the proposed ordinance to the Witmers to see what they thought. We got them. Witmer was not happy to see CBS 21 and called police. CBS 21 did not go on Witmer’s property.

Eventually state police showed up, spoke to both sides and decided no enforcement action would be taken.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

August 12, 2008 (Press Release)

New Law in Effect Regarding Outdoor Wood Boilers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: August 12, 2008
CONTACT: Pam Monroe, 603 271-0882
Kathy Brockett, 603 271-6284 New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

Concord, NH - The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services wants to make people aware of a new law that applies to outdoor wood boilers (also known as outdoor wood-fired hydronic heaters). If you already own an outdoor wood boiler or are thinking about purchasing one, you should know about HB 1405 (Chapter 362, Laws of N.H. 2007) of which certain provisions went into effect on August 10, 2008. The law establishes requirements for the sale, installation and use of these devices.

As of August 10, 2008, only clean wood and wood pellets made from clean wood may be burned in these devices.  In addition, outdoor wood boilers that are purchased and installed after August 10 and before January 1, 2009, and do not meet certain particulate emission standards as certified by the U.S. EPA, must meet two conditions. First, they must be installed no closer than 200 feet from an abutting residence. Second, they must have a permanent attached stack that is at least 2 feet higher than the peak of the roof of a residence or place of business (not served by the unit) located within 300 feet of the outdoor wood boiler. Also effective August 10, all distributors and/or sellers of outdoor wood boilers are required to provide prospective buyers with a copy of the new law.

Effective immediately, owners of existing outdoor wood boilers that are deemed a nuisance or injurious to public health by either the municipality or the Department of Health and Human Services will be required to abate the nuisance. DES will provide technical assistance to the municipality and the Department of Health and Human Services if this situation arises.

In addition to the requirements listed above, after January 1, 2009, the only outdoor wood boiler models that can be sold in New Hampshire must be certified by the U.S. EPA as meeting a Phase I particulate matter emission limit of 0.6 pounds per million British Thermal Units input or a stricter Phase II particulate emission limit of 0.32 lb/MMBTU output.  Effective April 1, 2010, all units must meet the Phase II standard in order to be sold in the State.  Units that meet the Phase I or Phase II EPA standards will be labeled accordingly.

Phase I units must be installed no closer than 100 feet from the nearest property line and have a permanent attached stack of 2 feet higher than the peak of the roof of a residence or place of business (not served by the unit) located within 300 feet of the unit. Phase II units must be installed no closer than 50 feet from the nearest property line.

DES recommends that individuals who currently own and operate an outdoor wood boiler follow best management practices for operation. People considering purchasing an outdoor wood boiler are urged to purchase the newest and cleanest burning units available. A complete list of certified makes and models can be found at the EPA website at http://www.epa.gov/woodheaters/models.htm. For questions about New Hampshire’s requirements and how they might apply to you, please call Pamela Monroe at DES, 603-271-0882.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

August 12, 2008

Tyrone Borough Council addresses outdoor furnaces and open burning with new regulations

By KRIS YANIELLO
Staff Writer
August 12, 2008

Tyrone Borough Council convened last evening at the municipal building for its August regular meeting. Council members Jim Grazier and Steve Hanzir were absent from the session.
      On council's agenda was the option to adopt new ordinances that addressed outdoor furnaces and open burning within the borough limits.
      Borough Solicitor Larry Clapper presented council members Ordinance No. 1269 and Ordinance No. 1270, by which council then unanimously approved. The goal for the new ordinances is to provide regulation and safety for outdoor furnaces and open burning.
      Ordinance No. 1269, "Regulation of Outdoor Furnaces," includes the definition of acceptable and unacceptable fuels, provide for chimney height, minimum lot size, permit to construct and set back requirements, regulate the emission of smoke from outdoor furnace heating systems, provide for enforcement and penalties for violations, and provide for variances and provide an effective date.
      The ordinance states that the term "outdoor furnace" is defined as "any equipment, device, apparatus or structure, or any part thereof which is installed, (excluding pre-existing flues for in-home heating systems) affixed or situated outdoors for the purpose of combustion of any type of fuel to produce heat or energy used as a component of a heating system providing heat for an interior space and/or water source."
      Outdoor furnaces are also known as “solid fuel heating devices” or “external heating devices.”
      The borough wants to regulate outdoor furnaces due to safety concerns and the fact that the types of fuels used and the scale and duration of the burning by such furnaces create noxious and hazardous smoke, soot, fumes, odor, air pollution, particles, and other products of combustion that can be detrimental to borough residents' health.
      Outdoor furnaces can also deprive neighboring residents of the enjoyment of their property or premises, according to the borough, so regulating the furnaces aims to eliminate those problems.
      Other municipalities have enacted legislation to either prohibit these devices or permit them, with restrictions, in order to reduce the creation of nuisances.
      With the new ordinance, outdoor furnaces can't be placed less than 100 feet from any other adjacent property owner's structure and must have a chimney stack or something similar that also has a spark arrestor installed on top. The furnace can't be placed less than 20 feet from the nearest point of intersection of the property line of another property owner.
      There also must be an area of 20 feet around the outdoor furnace structure completely free of combustible material, including vegetation, except for grass not exceeding four inches in height. The minimum required lot size for an outdoor furnace is 40,000 square feet.
      Outdoor furnaces can only burn "acceptable fuel," which consists of all natural wood products (dried and without additives), coal, No. 2 heating oil, and agricultural seeds in their natural state, without additives. This does not include wet and/or painted, varnished or coated with similar material, pressure treated lumber, wood containing preservatives, resins, glue as in plywood, particle board or other composite wood, and railroad ties.
      Other unacceptable materials consist of garbage and municipal waste, and recycling materials, including rubber tires.
      The Borough Code Enforcement Officer, Jim Metzgar, must inspect all outdoor furnaces and associated installation to assure compliance. Permit provisions and a plan drawing is also necessary. All outdoor furnaces already in existence must comply with requirements within 90 days of the adopted ordinance.
      "With the fuel costs it is now, we wanted to try and regulate these outdoor furnaces," said Metzgar. "A lot of people are going to try and use various heating elements, whether it be coal furnaces or outdoor furnaces, so this is one thing we want to try and regulate in the borough."
      Metzgar added that "safety" is one of the borough's biggest concerns that prompted the new ordinance. He said that a house could be burnt down with an outdoor furnace.
      "We wanted to make sure we addressed some of the safety concerns with these furnaces, and what the burning materials are that should be used," noted Metzgar.
      He continued, “The purpose of this ordinance is to establish and impose restrictions upon the construction and operation of outdoor furnaces within the borough for the purpose of securing and promoting the public health, comfort, convenience, safety, welfare, and prosperity of the borough and its residents.”
      The newly adopted Ordinance No. 1270, pertaining to open burning, amended the previous Ordinance No. 1176, which banned open burning in the borough. The new ordinance added the definition of "chiminea" and "fire pit," and it provides regulations for burning ban exceptions and the establishment of an effective date.
      "There was a lot of open burning within the borough from probably spring to summer, so we wanted to regulate it also," stated Metzgar. "The substances that were being used was the biggest concern - people were just throwing anything in there - so we wanted to regulate the materials you can and can't burn."
      The ordinance states that "any fire set solely for cooking food, provided that the material to be burned is non-recyclable material" and that such burning is in compliance with the borough's code. The open burning must be enclosed and must have a screen of sufficient strength. The fire pit must also be within reach of an operating water faucet and/or operating garden hose, which must be placed on privately owned property.
      An open fire in the borough can't be within 10 feet of a property line, and must be extinguished by 11 p.m. Any and all open permitted burning must be done under the consent and direct supervision of an adult of 18 years of age or older, and can't be done when a strong breeze or wind is active.
      Metzgar added, "The open burning is supposed to be for cooking only."

Full Article: CLICK HERE

August 12, 2008

City council pursues furnace laws

BY STEPHEN J. PYTAK
STAFF WRITER spytak@republicanherald.com Published: Tuesday, August 12, 2008 4:24 AM EDT

Pottsville City Council said Monday it’s looking to create an ordinance to govern the use of outdoor wood-burning furnaces, responding to concerns over a resident’s proposal to install one behind a Mahantongo Street property.

“A neighbor is a little concerned about it. We got a letter from the neighbor. Because of the layout of the city, the lots are so close, it’s just not made for the use of these furnaces,” said Donald J. Chescavage, city code enforcement officer.

While they’re becoming more popular as the cost of oil is expected to rise this winter, smoke from their stacks can become a nuisance to people living next door to them, said City Administrator Thomas A. Palamar.

In recent months, other municipalities in Schuylkill County, including Butler and Ryan townships and Girardville borough, have discussed developing ordinances to regulate their use.

In response to the letter of concern about the Mahantongo Street permit application, Palamar researched the issue. Palamar did not know the names of the permit applicant or the resident making the complaint and Chescavage did not have the paperwork with him at council’s August meeting Monday.

At the meeting, council authorized Palamar to draft an ordinance and submit that draft to solicitor Thomas J. “Tim” Pellish for review.

According to the Web site for Wood Doctor Furnace, a dealer for the furnaces, they are designed to sit outdoors.

“The furnace, looking much like a small utility building, is a wood-fired, water-jacketed stove. The water in the jacket is simply heated and pumped underground through insulated pipes to the building that needs to be heated,” the Web site states.

If the smoke stacks aren’t high enough, they can send smoke toward a neighboring property, Palamar said.

“I don’t think they were intended for an urban application,” said Councilman David Eckert.

There are currently two private property owners in the city using them. Both are on the city’s north side. One has been in use for three years. The other was set up last year, Chescavage said.

“Both are in locations where they should not affect anybody,” Chescavage said.

City Fire Chief Todd March said right now the city’s zoning laws can be applied to outdoor furnaces the same way they’re applied to outdoor fireplaces.

“If we start getting complaints from the neighbors and it becomes a nuisance, we’ll put a stop to it, even though they are legal,” March said.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

August 12, 2008 (OWBs mentioned)

Wood may be cheap, but cost to air quality may be high

By Margo Sullivan
Staff writer

August 12, 2008 02:47 am

With heating oil prices rising faster than smoke up the chimney, more residents are turning to wood as a primary source of heat for the winter ahead. While wood may be cheaper for homeowners, the cost in terms of air quality may be high.

No one yet knows the health consequences and the overall environmental toll if many people more people switch from oil and gas to wood. As of 2006, about 25 percent of New Hampshire households had a wood stove.

"It's too soon," said Kathy Brockett, education and outreach coordinator with the state Department of Environmental Services. "We don't know."

But Brockett did say New Hampshire is working with other states in the Northeast to zero in on pollution generated from burning wood. Of particular concern is the environmental impact from fireplaces and outdoor wood boilers, she said.

"With increasing energy prices, we are looking at the potential impact on air quality due to shifting use of fuels," she said. "We don't know what kind of a shift we may get."

In past years, government agencies have cautioned consumers about switching to alternative fuels, because the investment cost may outweigh any savings.

But for some, the issue is not money; it's about the environment and health, according to Paul Miller.

Miller is deputy director of Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, the organization the state Department of Environmental Services uses to study air quality from wood burning.

The organization has not studied pollution inside the home from pellet or wood stoves, Miller said. But he did cite a New Zealand study, which found increased emissions inside schools heated with wood heat. He said that suggested "stuff outside gets inside."

Generally, Miller said, wood burns dirtier than gas or oil and spews more toxins and "fine particulates" into the air. These particulates can be embedded deep in the lungs and cause respiratory problems. They're also a risk to people with asthma, especially children, and are associated with premature death.

"If you assumed that someone switches from oil or gas by installing a new certified wood stove, fine particle pollution goes up by 85 to 150 times over that from an oil or gas furnace, respectively, gas being the cleanest," he said. "If someone starts using a pre-existing older wood stove (pre-certification era), particulate pollution goes up by 260 to 460 times."

The worst problems come from the outdoor wood boilers.

"If someone installs a new outdoor wood boiler to replace an oil or gas furnace, particulate matter pollution goes up by over 1,000 times," he said.

Miller said it doesn't take much wood burning to build up air pollution, especially on cold days when there's no wind.

"Even in rural areas of New Hampshire and Massachusetts, in hilly coves or valleys, it doesn't take much smoke to build up to pretty unhealthy levels," he said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has been funding wood-fired boilers in Vermont public schools, Miller said, with the "unintended consequence of swapping out cleaner, older units with something not well controlled or well designed."

Miller said the pollution from the boilers probably has balanced out any improvements in air quality due to the government's efforts to get rid of diesel in school buses.

The solution, according to the state Department of Environmental Services, is to buy clean-burning stoves certified by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. But state air pollution experts are worried people trying to beat the oil and gas prices may put an older stove back into service, even though it doesn't meet emission standards.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

August 12, 2008 (editorial)

Good idea, smelly results (MN)

8/12/2008 12:59:03 PM

If predictions of soaring prices for natural gas come true this winter --and we have no reason to believe they won't --there's a good chance that more people will become interested in using alternative fuels to heat their homes.

That's why the timing of Stewartville's decision to ban outdoor wood-burning furnaces might appear to be unfair. These devices, which look like small metal sheds with short smokestacks, are basically wood-fired hot-water boilers that can heat homes at very little cost, especially if owners have a ready supply of free firewood.

The problem is that wood smoke contains high levels of small particulate pollution, and these furnaces burn a lot of wood. By some estimates, one outdoor wood-burner produces as much pollution as 1,800 natural gas furnaces.

Given the air-quality alerts that have become almost routine in southeastern Minnesota, it appears that communities have good reason to be concerned. Right now, these devices don't burn wood very efficiently and lack emission controls. When neighbors live in close proximity, there's a strong likelihood of smoke becoming a nuisance.

Three states -- Connecticut, Maine and Montana -- have set emissions standards for wood-fired boilers, and three more have similar legislation pending. We hope that such requirements will prompt manufacturers to build better, cleaner wood burners.

Until that happens, people who live in towns or cities should take the $10,000 or more they were considering spending on a burner and invest it in more insulation, better windows or a high-efficiency gas furnace.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

August 10, 2008

Around SouthCoast, looking ahead and looking back (OWB News, Freetown)


FREETOWN

Residents with outdoor wood boilers will likely be facing regulations within the next few months. Citing health concerns and resident complaints, town and state officials have produced draft regulations to control where the boilers can be placed and their emissions. According to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, emissions from outdoor wood boilers or outdoor hydronic heaters can aggravate heart and lung conditions, with some of the compounds in smoke being known or suspected carcinogens. Freetown officials said that if the DEP guidelines are approved by October 1 as anticipated, they might use the state regulations in lieu of their own.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

August 8, 2008

Lehman restricts wood heat

August 08, 2008 6:00 AM

Lehman Township supervisors approved three ordinances, including an amendment setting restrictions on legal gambling and off-track betting and another restricting outdoor wood-fired burners that drew criticism during Wednesday night's public hearing.

As for the outdoor wood-fired burners, the ordinance establishes that they can only be operated between Oct. 12 and April 30 to burn wood only. It states the chimney must be at least 30 feet high and the unit must be 150 feet from all property lines and 300 feet from residences not located on the lot. Menditto pointed out this ordinance does not affect indoor wood burning stoves.

Two people attending the meeting objected before its approval.

"This ordinance is the wrong ordinance in the wrong time of our history. It's discriminatory," said restaurateur John Petrizzo, who is not a resident but who runs a business in Bushkill, a community straddling the township and Middle Smiithfield in Monroe County. "If someone wanted to run an outdoor furnace and run it in his fireplace flue, it would be illegal."

Petrizzo later commented that the ordinance "affects everybody. With fuel oil costs going through the roof, it puts a burden on the people in the community."

Petrizzo also asked whether wood-burning fireplaces already in existence would be "grandfathered" (excluded) under the ordinance. "This would only affect new ones as of today," said Vollmer.

Resident Scott Hanna took issue with the distances and height restrictions that he called "ridiculous" and pointed out that neighboring states allow outdoor furnaces to burn things other than wood, such as coal. "I've lived here 20 years and it gets cool where stoves have to be started before Sept. 30 and stopped after Memorial Day," Hanna said.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

August 7, 2008

Wood boiler user in Freetown protests proposed regulations

FREETOWN — The soaring cost of fuel compelled Charlie Sullivan to seek an alternative for heating his 200-year-old, 2,400-square-foot Assonet home, so last December he installed an outdoor wood boiler.

For the rest of the winter, his family enjoyed toasty-warm rooms and hot water, all while using less than 10 percent of the oil they normally would burn.

Then Mr. Sullivan, a town police officer, heard about proposed local and state regulations, which he maintains will essentially shut down his heat source.

"I don't see that it is a pressing problem," he said during a recent selectmen's meeting. "To my knowledge, there are no more than six of these units in this community now. ... When I saw your proposed regulations, it would actually make it so no one could operate a wood-burning furnace in this community."

Citing health concerns and resident complaints, town and state officials have produced draft regulations to control where the boilers can be placed and their emissions.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, emissions from outdoor wood boilers or outdoor hydronic heaters can aggravate heart and lung conditions, with some of the compounds in smoke being known or suspected carcinogens.

Proposed town regulations say boilers cannot be placed within 50 feet of the structures they serve, and cannot be less than 400 feet from other residences.

The boilers, per the town regulation draft, also must have a smokestack that is at least 2 feet higher than the roof peak of the highest residence within a radius of 400 feet.

The proposed state regulations are even more stringent, requiring that the boiler have a stack 5 feet higher than the peak of any roof within 150 feet of the heater, and that other residences must be at least 500 feet from the boiler. They also call for models to meet state emissions standards.

State and town regulations limit use to part of the year and require safe burning practices, such as using only clean, seasoned wood for fuel, rather than trash or chemically treated wood.

According to Mr. Sullivan, who said he saves about $6,000 a year with his boiler, it is unfair for the new regulations to apply to existing boilers.

"Let's say that today you follow the speed limit and go 50 mph down the road. Tomorrow the town decides to change the speed limit to 30 mph, and then they send you a ticket for going 50 today. That is what it is like. I followed the rules, but now it looks like I am going to be penalized," he said.

Mr. Sullivan's boiler is 120 feet from his neighbor's house, 40 feet from his own and has an 8-foot smokestack.

He says the danger is minimal because his model is a Central Boiler E-Classic 2300, which exceeds the 2007 emissions standard set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as well as the 2010 emission limits for Maine and Vermont.

Despite the impending regulations, Jeff Moran, a Central Boiler dealer in Westport, said sales are brisk, with an installation waiting period through November.

Because of the new guidelines coming out, he plans to sell primarily the E-Classic 2300, which has a base price of $10,500.

"People are desperate. For some of a certain economic bracket, it is starve or freeze. ... They get one and then they come back and say they expected the money savings, but what they didn't expect was the lifestyle change. They can wear T-shirts and shorts in their house all winter long. That's how efficient these things are," Mr. Moran said.

Freetown officials said that if the DEP guidelines are approved by Oct. 1 as anticipated, they might use the state regulations in lieu of their own.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

August 7, 2008

Please read this article it is a rather humorous approach to heating with wood. Please enjoy!

 

Trust me, burning firewood leads to a life of misery and financial ruin

Published Thursday, August 7, 2008

Soooooooo, you think putting in a wood stove and burning firewood this winter is going to save you a bunch of money?

You’ve had it with the high price of heating oil and you finally decided to take action. You went out and bought a wood stove, or maybe one of those big, expensive, outdoor wood furnaces or boilers that have become so popular, and are determined to cut down on your heating costs.

Well, let me tell you something. You’re making a serious mistake.

Take it from someone who has been burning firewood as his primary heat source for the better part of 20 years — cutting and burning firewood is hell on a marriage, hell on a family, hell on the environment and hell on your health.

On top of that, it’s a lot of hard work, it’s dirty, and it doesn’t save you any money.

Never mind that the old McCullough chainsaw that I have used for the last 20 years was free because I found it in the middle of the road; or that I have never paid for a piece of firewood in my life (and I never will); or that the wood stove I use cost me only $200 at a garage sale (as you might have suspected, it’s not EPA approved).

It’s not the cost of the chainsaw, firewood or wood stove that make burning firewood an expensive proposition. It’s the hidden costs that burn you.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t until I got married that I noticed how expensive burning firewood can be.

First, there’s the $15,526 I have spent on marriage counseling during the past 14 years because my wife, Kristan, is convinced that I care more about Marge — my pet name for my chainsaw — than I do her. She — Kristan not Marge — claims that I would rather spend time in the woods cutting firewood than I would taking her — Kristan — out to an expensive dinner and a night of dancing.

Of course, in an attempt to prove my undying love — for Kristan — I have spent $8,935 on expensive dinners and ballroom dancing lessons throughout the years to keep our marriage together. There has also been the occasional floral bouquet, diamond ring and Hawaiian vacation, which amounts to another $32,644.

Then there’s the $27,909 I have spent on my 9-year-old son, Logan, as a result of burning firewood. Doctors, child psychologists, hypnotists, gypsies — you name it and I’ve paid for it in an attempt to find out how a child can be so dead set against hauling wagon loads of wood from the wood shed to the house when it’s 40 below and the wood box is empty. That’s on top of the $2,543 in allowance money to haul wood when his mood allows, which is usually when he needs a new Manga book.

All of this, of course, in addition to the tremendous and seemingly unquenchable thirst you get while cutting and splitting firewood on hot, summer days, has driven me to drink. According to my latest estimates — and these are just preliminary — I have spent $12,788 on beer as a result of burning firewood and the emotional distress it has caused me.

I’m sure there will probably be medical bills down the road, too.

For several years now, my wife has been telling me I don’t hear as well as I did when we first got married, which she attributes to my use of a chainsaw. More and more, Kristan says, she tells me things and I don’t respond. Just the other day, according to Kristan, she said something about how we need to put flooring down in the living room to replace the carpet we ripped up a more than a year ago and I acted like I hadn’t heard her.

Then there are the social costs.

Because we heat mainly with wood — we have a forced-air furnace, but I keep the thermostat set at 50 degrees — and heat doesn’t necessarily circulate through our one-story, 2,200-square-foot house as well as some people in our house would like, some rooms — basically all of them except the one the wood stove is in — are cooler than others.

As a result, in the winter we can only host small gatherings — no more than six people — because that’s all that will fit comfortably huddling within 3 feet of the wood stove. Kids aren’t allowed in the main living room — the coldest room in the house — unless they are dressed in full Arctic gear. It may be my imagination, but I think our circle of friends shrinks in the winter.

As for what burning wood does to the environment, well, let’s not go down that road, even though that’s the excuse Logan offers every time I ask him to get some firewood. “I don’t want to contribute to global warming, Dad,” he tells me on a regular basis each winter.

Soooooooo, as you can see, burning firewood is not the romantic, cost-saving endeavor you thought it would. Erase those visions of you and your wife cuddling up next to a warm wood stove, sitting on a bear-skin rug, wrapped in each others’ arms, staring into each others’ eyes, whispering sweet nothings into each others’ ears and replace them with visions of a whining child and a wife who says you love your chainsaw more than her.

So all you people out there I see driving around with pickup trucks loaded with freshly cut firewood, just stop it. You’re just setting yourself up for a life of misery and financial ruin.

You won’t be happy. Your wife won’t be happy. Your children won’t be happy.

Instead, the next time you hear about someone who has some firewood they want to get rid of, or if you have some firewood you want to get rid of, or if you know of any place within 50 miles of Fairbanks where there is some firewood to be had — for free of course — pick up the phone and give me a call and I’ll be glad to come over and get it.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

August 7, 2008

Belding City Council considers outdoor boiler ban

By FRANK KONKEL
Sentinel-Standard writer



BELDING - It looks like outdoor wood boilers (OWBs) in Belding could be about to go up in smoke.

The City of Belding Planning Commission presented data and findings to the Belding City Council at Tuesday's council meeting, suggesting the city prohibit OWBs altogether.

While the council won't take action on the planning commission's recommendation until its next meeting on Aug. 19, Belding Zoning Administrator and Code Enforcement Officer Roger May expects it to pass without a hitch.

Health issues, May said, and the fact that wood boilers are short enough to cause lingering smoke, make wood boilers detrimental to city grounds. Evidence also shows OWBs to pollute the environment significantly more than standard fuel burning.

“What this does is basically prohibit people in city limits from purchasing wood boilers,” said May, who discussed the issue not only with the planning commission, but also with unit producers like Central Boiler. “I'm always concerned about property rights, but after weighing the issue, this is the recommendation of the planning commission.”

According to the resolution, wood boilers would be banned from city limits entirely.

The only exceptions are the three individuals who currently own them, though they'll have to register their boilers. They won't be allowed to replace them, however.

“I think it's crap, really, to be honest,” said Belding resident Matt Alberts, who owns a boiler inside city limits. “Nobody's complained to me, nobody's said anything about it. It's not like I'm cutting down green trees here.”



In fact, May said nobody has complained about wood boilers inside city limits. They have, however, received a complaint about low-lying smoke from a resident's chimney. If Belding didn't follow the lead of local townships and cities statewide to implement wood boiler language in their laws, May fears more OWBs might spring up, causing more problems, especially in residential areas. Central Boiler, a large manufacturer of OWBs, states in installation regulations that OWBs should not be installed less than 300-feet from any other residence. Simply following those guidelines rules out most homes within city limits.

“Lingering smoke seems to be a problem nobody can really solve,” said council member Rick Stout. “There's just not much you can do when you're in close proximity to other homes.”

There are obvious benefits to utilizing wood boilers during the cold winter months, especially with individuals who have access to firewood. Alberts said he saves hundreds of dollars each winter because he doesn't have to purchase fuel for heat. Furthermore, Alberts said he uses dead wood - the type of wood boiler producers recommend for usage - thereby “cleaning up” the environment. For a two-story home, that's a substantial savings.

“I don't have a heat bill,” said Alberts, who saves approximately $1,600 each year with his OWB. “It's not that I can't afford to heat my house without it, but I wouldn't heat it that high.”

There is a last resort for people who feel they should still have the right to install an OWB. May said those individuals can file an appeal with the zoning board of appeals and expect some type of action within 45 days.

Otherwise, Belding could be smoke-free at the next city council meeting.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

August 7, 2008

Town considering outdoor furnace ordinance

August 6, 2008

Town guidelines worry owner of wood-boiler: Will money-saver be barred?

August 06, 2008 9:02 PM

FREETOWN — The soaring cost of fuel compelled Charlie Sullivan to seek an alternative for heating his 200-year-old 2,400-square-foot Assonet home, so last December he installed an outdoor wood boiler.

For the rest of the winter, his family enjoyed toasty-warm rooms and hot water for less than 10 percent of the oil they normally would burn.

Then Mr. Sullivan, a town police officer, heard about proposed local and state regulations, which he maintains will essentially shut down his heat source.

“I don’t see that it is a pressing problem,” he said during a recent selectmen’s meeting. “To my knowledge, there are no more than six of these units in this community now. ... When I saw your proposed regulations, it would actually make it so no one could operate a wood-burning furnace in this community.”

Citing health concerns and resident complaints, town and state officials have produced draft regulations to control where the boilers can be placed and their emissions.

According to the state Department of Environmental Protection, emissions from outdoor wood boilers or outdoor hydronic heaters can aggravate heart and lung conditions, with some of the compounds in smoke being known or suspected carcinogens.

Proposed town regulations say boilers cannot be placed within 50 feet of the structures they serve, and cannot be less than 400 feet from other residences.

The boilers, per the town regulation draft, also must have a smokestack that is at least 2 feet higher than the roof peak of the highest residence within a radius of 400 feet.

The proposed state regulations are even more stringent, requiring that the boiler have a stack 5 feet higher than the peak of any roof within 150 feet of the heater, and that boilers can be no less than 500 feet from other residences. They also call for models to meet state emissions standards.

State and town regulations limit use to part of the year and require safe burning practices, such as using only clean, seasoned wood for fuel, rather than trash or chemically treated wood.

According to Mr. Sullivan, who said he saves about $6,000 a year with his boiler, it is unfair for the new regulations to apply to existing boilers.

Let’s say that today you follow the speed limit and go 50 mph down the road. Tomorrow the town decides to change the speed limit to 30 mph, and then they send you a ticket for going 50 today. That is what it is like. I followed the rules, but now it looks like I am going to be penalized,” he said.

Mr. Sullivan’s boiler is 120 feet from his neighbor’s house, 40 feet from his own and has an 8-foot smokestack.

He says the danger is minimal because his model is a Central Boiler E-Classic 2300, which exceeds the 2007 emissions standard set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, as well as the 2010 emission limits for Maine and Vermont.

Despite the impending regulations, Jeff Moran, a Central Boiler dealer in Westport, said sales are brisk, with an installation waiting period through November.

Because of the new guidelines coming out, he plans to sell primarily the E-Classic 2300, which has a base price of $10,500.

“People are desperate. For some of a certain economic bracket, it is starve or freeze. ... They get one and then they come back and say they expected the money savings, but what they didn’t expect was the lifestyle change. They can wear T-shirts and shorts in their house all winter long. That’s how efficient these things are,” Mr. Moran said.

Freetown officials said that if the DEP guidelines are approved by Oct. 1 as anticipated, they might use the state regulations in lieu of their own.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

August 3, 2008

Board delays outdoor furnace, boiler regulations

GateHouse News Service
Posted Aug 03, 2008 @ 10:19 PM
 
Freetown —

The Board of Health has agreed to wait until Sept. 1 before it takes action on a draft to enact regulations for outdoor wood burning boilers or furnaces.
Health board members have noted the importance of regulating these types of boilers and furnaces as some homeowners are turning to these options to curb home heating expenses.
But Health Agent Paul R. Bourgeois said last week that he has recommended that the board wait until the state Department of Environmental Protection devises its own regulations.  
“The (state Department of Environmental Protection) has had some public hearings, and the public hearing process has been closed; we are all waiting for the DEP’s final draft on new regulations and my recommendation was to wait for those,” Bourgeois said.
But health board members said they will not wait too long for the state DEP.
Health board member Jean C. Fox said the board has designated Sept. 1 as a good cutoff date. If the DEP has not acted, the town’s health board will act, she said.
“We certainly don’t want to impede their progress, but we don’t want this to go unregulated,” Fox said.
Board of Health Chairman Lawrence N. Ashley said it might come to the point in which residents who come in for an application for a furnace or boiler will be given both the town’s draft regulations and the state’s.
He said the older systems might not be certified by underwriter laboratories or other agencies. This, he says, poses a possible safety threat.
“We are charged with protecting the health of the public just like for septic systems and wells,” Ashley said.
At a July Board of Selectmen meeting, Ashley passed out a draft of regulations that he modeled from another community.
The regulations state that a boiler or furnace must be installed 50 feet from the structure it is serving. His draft also states that they must be located 400 feet from the next nearest residence; they must has have a smokestack height two feet higher than the roof peak; and boilers may only be operated from Sept. 1 through June 1 “with the exception of days of unseasonable weather.”
Violators can expect a written warning on their first offense, a $100 fine by the second offense; and a $300 fine for subsequent offenses, according to the draft.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

August 1, 2008

Town mulls temporary moratorium on wood furnaces

Written by Jane K. Dove   

Friday, August 01, 2008

With energy prices rising relentlessly, area residents are looking for ways to cut home heating costs, including lowering the thermostat, improving insulation and installing geothermal systems.

Another approach gaining increasing traction in New York state, the outdoor wood-burning furnace, is now starting to show up in Lewisboro.

Town officials expressed reservations about the furnaces at Monday night’s Town Board work session after town Building Inspector Peter Barrett said he had recently issued two permits for outdoor wood-burning furnaces.

Mr. Barrett said he believed officials should take a look at the use of the devices in Lewisboro. At present, no regulations exist.

Hot water

Outdoor wood-burning furnaces provide hot water that ties into a home’s existing heating system.

The furnace sits outside, adjacent to the home, and looks much like a small utility building, but is actually a wood-fired, water-jacketed stove that is designed to burn firewood.

The hot water is carried through underground pipes to link up with systems in the house. Manufacturers say one outdoor wood-burning furnace can easily provide enough heat for a large house, garage and swimming pool.

Discussion

Town Board member Dan Welsh said he was familiar with the concept.

“Most of these are upstate, where they have been doing this for a long time,” he said. “One problem I see is that they are left to smolder for a long time. I wonder if there are some new technologies out there now that might be better.”

Mr. Barrett said the two permits he issued were for outdoor wood-burning furnaces that are now in the process of being installed. “I see the smoke could become a real nuisance, especially in the lake communities,” he said.

Town Board member Peter DeLucia agreed. “Maybe what we need to do is require a certain amount of acreage, like two acres, for one of these to be installed, along with a 200-foot property line setback”

Town Attorney Jessica Bacal said officials should also be concerned about what the fireplaces burn. “The manufacturers require split, dried wood,” she said.

Town Supervisor Edward Brancati said he would like to see “a moratorium on them for now.”

“We need to discuss whether we want to ban them altogether or permit limited use,” he said. “We need to take a close look at this before any more are installed.”

Ms. Bacal agreed. “We need to take action on this sooner rather than later. I believe we would have to have a public hearing before issuing a moratorium.”

Officials liked the idea of a declaring a moratorium.

“This could be good because it would give us time to make an informed decision,” said Mr. DeLucia.

Town Board member Bruce Pavalow asked Ms. Bacal to investigate the process for calling for a moratorium. “Hopefully we can make a decision on this by next week,” he said.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

August 1, 2008

Town bans outdoor boilers for one year


By DAN HEATH
Staff Writer

PLATTSBURGH — The Town of Plattsburgh has placed a one-year moratorium on the installation of outdoor wood boilers.

The moratorium is intended to give town officials time to set regulations and standards for the use of outdoor wood boilers and those that use similar fuel sources.

Assistant Town Code Enforcement Officer Steve Imhoff said it will allow time to establish setback distance and smoke-stack height standards to decrease adverse effects to neighbors.

The intention is not to outlaw outdoor boilers but to regulate them, he said.

Outdoor wood boilers already in place are not affected by the moratorium.

At a public hearing on the proposed local law, Dr. Scott Mischler of 3 Wildflower Lane in Morrisonville said he felt a moratorium is premature.

“My biggest concern about this moratorium is that we’re coming up to a year where fuel prices are at a record high. I think this will put a great hardship on the people of Plattsburgh.”

Many people are looking at alternative heating methods this year and will do so next year, Mischler said.

Former Town Councilor John St. Germain questioned why it would take a whole year to establish such regulations.

“I think this could be done within three months,” he said.

Councilor Gerard Renadette said the moratorium allows the town to take a proactive, rather than a reactive, stance.

It is the Town Council’s responsibility to see that neighbors are protected from fire and smoke from improperly located or installed boilers, he said.

“I understand the need for alternative sources of heat. My hope is the moratorium won’t last a year.”

Councilor Martin Mannix said the development of regulations should be placed on a fast track.

Imhoff noted that any town resident can present a hardship case to the Town Council.

The moratorium makes offenders guilty of a violation and subject to a fine not to exceed $1,000 or 15 days in jail. Each week a violation continues is to be seen as a separate violation, subject to the same penalties.

dheath@pressrepublican.com

Full Article: CLICK HERE

July 28, 2008

N.S. extends furnace ban

By JOSEPH FITZGERALD

July 28, 2008 

NORTH SMITHFIELD — The Town Council Monday voted to extend a moratorium on new installations of outdoor wood burning furnaces until Sept. 23.

 The six-month moratorium, which the council appoved in February, expires Aug. 1. The extension will continue to prevent new installations until the town is ready to adopt a local regulations that could either set strict regulations or ban the stoves altogether.
That proposed ordinance has been drafted, according to Town Solicitor Mark C. Hadden, and will be submitted to the council for a first reading on Sept. 2. The council will give the proposed legislation a second reading on Sept. 15.
One resident blasted the council for taking too much time to draft the ordinance, saying he wants to install a furnace before the heating season begins. Council President Linda Thibault defended the board, saying ordinances take time to be adopted because the interests of all parties must be taken into consideration and protected.
The town has been working with an expert consultant hired by the town to help the community study the effects of wood burning furnaces and draft a local ordinance that would regulate and control them.
The council had been considering the moratorium for months following a private nuisance case between two Pound Hill Road neighbors over one of the neighbor's use of an outdoor wood burning furnace. The local case in question involves resident Keith Klockars of 676 Pound Hill Road, who has been operating an outside wood boiler manufactured by Minnasota-based Central Boiler, Inc. Klockars' neighbor, John Wilbur, who lives 200 from Klockars' house, has complained to town officials about constant clouds of thick smoke he says has made it impossible for his family to enjoy their backyard.
An outdoor wood furnace resembles a small utility building that sits outdoors and contains a wood fired, water-jacketed stove. The hot water is circulated through underground pipes to the inside of the house, where they are hooked to a heat exchanger in the majority of cases. In some cases, they can be directly plumbed to the hot water heater or tied in with an existing floor heating system or boiler.
Proponents say outdoor wood furnaces are simple, clean and efficient. Instead of moving the wood and corresponding mess and bugs indoors, the wood burning furnace is outdoors next to the wood. Indoor air pollution is also cut to zero by moving the fire and smoke outside. Users typically load it once at night and once in the morning.
Opponents point to the fact that wood burning furnaces cause dense smoke that impacts neighbors by creating a nuisance and health problems. Most units come equipped with very short stacks and the smoke from these low stacks disperses poorly.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends emissions and air quality standards, but does not regulate where and when the wood-fired burners can be installed or used. A growing number of communities nationwide are setting their own rules on the increasingly popular wood boilers, which are not federally regulated. Some states, including Connecticut and Maine, have regulations and let their municipalities adopt even stricter limits or ban the boilers altogether. Massachusetts has considered statewide rules but has not enacted them.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

July 27, 2008

Town seeks to regulate outdoor wood-burning boilers

Special to The Herald News
Posted Jul 27, 2008 @ 09:42 PM
Freetown —

With fuel prices on the rise, some people in town are turning to outdoor wood-burning boilers or furnaces to heat water or other liquid for home heating purposes, said Board of Health Chairman Lawrence N. Ashley.
However, the town’s Board of Health is looking to pass regulations governing their use because they allegedly can be a nuisance to neighbors and be environmentally harmful, Ashley added.
Ashley told fellow board members at a meeting earlier this month that some of these boilers are set too low and are causing a haze at window level for nearby residences. He also said that some residents have complained that these boilers are too close to adjacent properties.
“They are banned in some towns,” Ashley said. “The problem is they have no filtration system. You are constantly burning wood.”
He also said that the state Department of Environmental Protection is concerned about pollution potential. He said other concerns include complaints that some people put tires in them.
Following the lead of another community, Ashley drafted regulations that include mandating that a boiler or furnace must be installed 50 feet from the structure it serves. His draft also states that they must be located 400 feet from the nearest residence; they must has have a smokestack height 2 feet higher than the roof peak; and boilers may only be operated from Sept. 1 through June 1 “with the exception of days of unseasonable weather.”
The potential regulations also make it clear that wood fuel does not include "materials chemically treated with any preservative, paint or oil."
"The purpose of these regulations is to minimize the human health hazards resulting from the smoke and noxious fumed emitted by outdoor wood-burning boilers; and to encourage proper technique in using and setting these boilers," according to the draft. Violators can expect a written warning on their first offense, a $100 fine by the second offense; and a $300 fine for subsequent offenses.
The Board of Health said they still await a review from Health Agent Paul R. Bourgeois on the matter.
The board has only drafted such regulations, but Ashley said he would like the board to act as soon as possible.
The potential passage of regulations come amid predictions that the price of fuel oil will rise dramatically this upcoming winter.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

July 25, 2008

Resor: Regulating outdoor wood boilers

By Pam Resor/Guest Columnist

Fri Jul 25, 2008, 02:56 PM EDT

There is a phrase ‘good fences make good neighbors,’ but the fact is a good fence will not protect you from air pollution. Here in Massachusetts, we value the health of our residents and the environment.  That is why strict emission standards are imposed on industry polluters.

However on a local scale, boards of health are charged with the responsibility of protecting the health of residents by conducting thorough inspections, issuing appropriate permitting, investigating complaints objectively, and taking action where necessary.  While outdoor wood-fired boilers (OWB) have traditionally been used for heating rural farmhouses, the appearance of these antiquated smoke-belching furnaces in residential suburbia has become a contention between once-friendly neighbors and boards of health may find themselves caught in between.

Unlike indoor woodstoves which are required to meet strict emissions standards, OWB’s have not been regulated by the EPA or the state, although several municipalities have implemented use restrictions and outright bans on the devices citing health risks and dangerous emissions of particulate matter.

In terms of carbon emissions, one OWB can emit as much harmful pollutants as four diesel trucks or twenty-two indoor woodstoves.  This is an extravagant amount of carbon emissions for one household and is especially inappropriate for use in densely populated areas where heavy smoke indiscriminately wafts into neighboring homes leading to adverse health affects including severe asthma.  These year round furnaces are essentially large, freestanding metal boilers with smokestacks between 8 and 12 feet high which are too short to effectively carry smoke above homes or tree line.  The wood-fired furnace acts as a water boiler to provide heat and hot water for a residence, swimming pool, hot tub, greenhouse, or other structure. The wood fire is kept smoldering until hot water or heat is needed, at which time the dampers open to allow air to rush in and stoke the fire, causing a mass of thick smoke to pour from the boiler.  Even more harmful pollutants are released when inappropriate fuel is used such as green wood, painted wood, demolition and construction debris, or trash.

Local boards of health are entrusted to fairly issue permits for these devices, but in some cases across the Commonwealth health concerns and placement of OWB’s remain unaddressed.  In response to these concerns the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has recently developed regulations to address the use of OWB’s based on the research of the non-profit alliance of New England States for Air Use Management.  These regulations include strict emissions standards and minimum setback distances for OWB’s. By establishing these uniform regulations, local boards of health will have the tools to appropriately manage permitting and citing of these devices.  Both police departments and the Mass. DEP will have the authority to investigate complaints and take action in cases of inappropriate operation or use which threatens health or residents.  

It is clear that boards of health will play an important role in the effective implementation of these new regulations and thorough and fair investigations into improper use of these devices will be required.  Reducing heating costs should not override the importance of public health and our constitutionally protected rights to clean air.  When clean air is at stake, a good fence will not save you from expensive doctor bills and asthma medications.

Pam Resor is the State Senator for the Middlesex & Worcester District which includes the town of Sudbury.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

July 24, 2008

Watson considers moratorium on outdoor wood furnaces
By STEVE VIRKLER
TIMES STAFF WRITER
THURSDAY, JULY 24, 2008
 

WATSON — The Town Council on Friday will consider a six-month moratorium on outdoor wood-burning furnaces.

However, council members likely will rescind the proposed moratorium as soon as some regulations for the furnaces are put into the town's zoning law.

"We want to get the new law in place so people can get them in by this winter," Supervisor Virgil E. Taylor said.

The Town Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed moratorium at 7 p.m. Friday at the town hall, 6971 Number Four Road.

"It isn't that we want to ban them," Mr. Taylor said. "We just want to get some kind of control to make everyone happy."

Much of this eastern Lewis County town is sparsely populated, with more than half of the acreage inside the Adirondack Park.

However, the town has received complaints from some residents who have close neighbors with outdoor wood furnaces, Mr. Taylor said. Most of the complaints center on smoke and odors from the furnaces, particularly in cases when garbage is burned, he said.

Mr. Taylor said he and board members already have reviewed outdoor wood furnace ordinances from several other towns.

"We've done a lot of research on it already," he said.

Such laws generally include a minimum stack height — usually 15 feet — to minimize ground-level smoke, some restrictions on items that may be burned and a limit on when they may be fired up, if they're not used to heat water, Mr. Taylor said.

Owners of existing furnaces likely would not have to change their setup but would have to abide by use restrictions.

Residents can air their concerns and ideas about possible restrictions at Friday's public hearing, Mr. Taylor said.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

July 24, 2008

Talks heat up on regulating wood burners

Planned West Penn ordinance goes back the drawing board.

By Lisa Price

Special to The Morning Call

July 24, 2008

West Penn Township planners are learning that developing an ordinance to regulate outdoor wood burners isn't cut-and-dried.

The Planning Commission spent hours developing a first draft of an ordinance, only to have township supervisors kick it back to them this month.

On Tuesday, planners listened to suggestions from residents who use or plan to use the burners, and considered ways to handle complaints if someone's use creates a public nuisance.

Most outdoor wood burners have an inner fire box in which the wood is burned, surrounded by a water jacket that heats water, which then is piped underground from the stove to the house. There, it runs through baseboard heaters or radiators.

The burners can be a home's sole source of heat and hot water, or tied into an existing system such as an oil burner.

The planners and the dozen residents at the meeting worked section by section through the draft ordinance, but agreed more input is needed. They plan to schedule a public workshop to iron out details of enforcement, penalties and appeals.

Scott Soley, who owns Soley's Towing and Automotive, said he just spent $19,000 on a system to take the place of five oil-burning furnaces and was concerned the ordinance could affect his plans. He said he counted 35 burners in West Penn.

A key issue is where the outdoor stoves may be located. The first draft said the stoves could only be on lots of 10 acres or more. The second draft said they should be 200 feet from other residences.

Planner Bob Beck said it would be better to base sites on property lines rather than location of a neighbor's residence. Beck also said he could see ''any way one size is going to fit all'' in an ordinance.

Township Supervisor Al Martinez told planners that supervisors felt lots of an acre and a half were big enough to support an outdoor wood burner, and the burners should be located using existing setback guidelines for structures.

Other issues are whether there should be times -- such as from May 15 through Sept. 15 -- when the burners could not be used, as suggested in the first draft, and whether existing burners be subject to the same permit process as new burners, or ''grandfathered'' in.

Resident Mike Scott said he designed his new house with his outdoor wood burner in mind. He shuts it down in summer and uses a backup propane system, he said.

''I think these should be handled on a case-by-case basis,'' he told the board. ''The biggest thing is that common sense has to come into play.''

Lisa Price is a freelance writer.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

July 24, 2008

Boiler rules being considered in Freetown

July 24, 2008 6:00 AM

FREETOWN — Owners of outdoor wood-burning boilers will have to comply with guidelines or face penalties if selectmen approve regulations submitted by Board of Health Chairman Lawrence N. Ashley.

"Outdoor wood-burning boilers have been shown, because of their design, to emit high quantities of particulate matter and noxious fumes," Mr. Ashley said in a three-page draft presented to selectmen. "Health, safety and nuisance problems have arisen from the use of these boilers. Poor operational practices and inappropriate fuel exacerbate the detrimental health effects of

these devices."

Increasing in popularity due to the rising cost of heating fuel, the outdoor boilers provide heat to the home from a free-standing shed.

Mr. Ashley said he based the proposed regulations on those of other towns and adjusted them for Freetown's needs.

A permit for the boilers would be required from the Board of Health, the Building Department and the Fire Department. Prospective owners would be required to submit a site plan indicating the proposed boiler location in relation to property lines and other buildings, and pay a yet-to-be-determined fee.

The boiler would have to be at least 50 feet from the structure it is serving, a minimum of 400 feet from neighboring residences and have a smokestack at least 2 feet higher than the roof peak of the highest residence within a radius of 400 feet.

Smoke from a boiler would not be allowed to exceed 30 percent opacity for longer than two minutes, except during a 15-minute start-up.

Boilers could be operated only from Sept. 1 to June 1, with the exception of unseasonable weather.

The Board of Health, its health agent, Fire Department and building inspector would enforce regulations.

Penalties for noncompliance would include a written warning for a first offense, a $100 fine for a second offense and $300 for subsequent offenses per violation.

"Some towns have actually banned" the burners, Mr. Ashley said.

"I have driven by these things, and what you actually get is a haze in the air. We received a complaint from a neighbor of one of these that apparently they tried to work something out with the owner but weren't successful."

Selectmen plan to send the document to Health Agent Paul R. Bourgeois for review.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

July 23, 2008

Officials address long-term health risks of air pollution in Fairbanks

Published Wednesday, July 23, 2008

FAIRBANKS — Air-quality and health officials said Tuesday that chronic air pollution presents long-term health risks for people in Fairbanks.

They also said they’re still nailing down exactly where the pollution — a mix of soot, dust and other particles — comes from.

Health specialists on the panel, which addressed the Fairbanks North Star Borough’s advisory Air Pollution Control Commission, said the pollution is linked to issues ranging from decreased lung function to heart problems.

Glenn Miller and Jim Conner, who respectively direct and study particulate pollution at the borough’s air quality division, have said they expect the issue will soon land Fairbanks on the Environmental Protection Agency’s short list of problem communities.

That will leave Fairbanks to get pollution — at its worst here in the winter — under control, something Conner indicated could mean changing many people’s home-heating habits and systems.

“We do know that our emissions go up when it gets cold, and we do know that we burn a lot of fuel,” Conner said.

The pollution is called “particulate” pollution, or PM2.5, and consists of bits of airborne dust.

When it becomes lodged deep in the lungs, it can cause chronic bronchitis, decreased lung function and, for people with lung or heart disease, shorter lives.

Fairbanks was marked a chronic polluter after federal pollution standards tightened three years ago.

Lori Verbrugge, a state toxicologist, said the smallest bits of particulate pollution can even enter the bloodstream.

She said a 2004 study of 10- to 18-year-olds in California indicate kids in polluted cities are more likely to develop decreased lung function. Other studies connect high pollution levels with higher mortality rates, she said.

“It’s quite clear that this elevated particulate matter does cause death” in susceptible residents including the elderly, she said.

Fairbanks tops acceptable levels for air pollution roughly 20 days each year, with emissions regularly spiking in the winter and subsiding in the summer, excluding heavy wildfire seasons, according to data from the borough.

Conner said particulate pollution in Fairbanks is a combination of many compounds including ammonium, sulfur, organic carbon, nitrate and soot.

He said early studies show the levels of organic carbon and sulfur rise notably during days when Fairbanks violates air pollution standards.

The borough and state are teaming to study the wintertime air pollution, with the federal government covering most of the tab.

Conner said the results will help specialists map a plan to lower pollution, a plan that could focus on converting diesel engines to “trap” pollution, help residents swap older wood stoves for ones certified by the EPA as clean-burning, or provide incentives for public transportation.

Conner said outdoor wood boilers could also be major polluters. He cited a study in New York state that indicated outdoor wood boilers can emit four times as much particulate pollution than conventional wood stoves and 10 times more than EPA-certified wood-burners.

Owen Hanley, a Fairbanks lung doctor, confirmed that some elements of particulate pollution can be linked to long-term health problems.

“Certainly, they can stay around (in the lungs) for decades, causing chronic irritation,” Hanley said.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

July 23, 2008 (partial article)

LEICESTER NOTEBOOK

Worchester Telegram

 Betty Lilyestrom (508) 892-3454

July 23, 2008 

The Board of Health will be holding a public hearing at 7 p.m. July 31 at the Leicester Senior Center, 40 Winslow Ave., about adopting regulations for outdoor wood boilers.

The boilers, which use wood to heat piped water in outdoor structures to heat homes, barns and other buildings, are regulated by state law, but the Health Board is proposing that the town adopt its own set of regulations.

Among possible items for consideration are changes in the distances permitted between the boilers and the structure being heated, and between the boilers and abutters, as well as the dates during which the boilers may be used.

Selectman Thomas V. Brennan Jr. noted that the boilers may currently be used only between Oct. 15 and April 15,, which would make no provision for individuals who wanted to use the boiler to heat water for an outdoor pool during other months.

A draft of the proposed local regulations is available at the Board of Health office, in the Leicester Town Hall at 3 Washburn Square. Written comments on the proposal will be accepted at the office until noon on July 28.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

July 21, 2008

Wood-burning stovers heast up in Lawrence

Monday, July 21, 2008

By JEAN JONES

jeanjones@fast.net

LAWRENCE TWP.  Outdoor wood-burning furnaces are something new and they are something Lawrence Township would like to discourage.

An ordinance was introduced in June regulating how close they could be to property lines and neighboring structures, what could be burned in them, how high the chimneys had to be and what months of the year they could be operated.

The problem has been complaints about smoke and the garbage and other materials being burned in them.

But Debbie Sowers told the committee at the public hearing on the ordinance that she has never burned anything but wood in hers and it has saved her considerable money on the gas she was using.

The furnaces, also called outdoor boilers or outdoor wood hydronic heaters, are installed outdoors and are connected by pipes to the house, where they can provide hot water for heating or domestic use. With fuel so high, more people are buying them and in most areas they are not yet regulated.

Sowers said the chimney requirement, that it be at least two feet higher than the nearest structure, is a burden because the chimney components come in two-foot sections and are $100 per section..

Mayor Tom Sheppard said the regulations the township is adopting are taken mostly from the manufacturer's installation and operation instructions and those already installed will be "grandfathered."

Sheppard acknowledged that the chimney requirement could be a problem.

"It's not going to be easy to put a freestanding chimney in the middle of a yard," he said," but you can put it next to the house.

Committeeman Joe Miletta said some people put up a TV tower and attach the chimney to it.

Sowers also said it would be impossible for some people to meet the 100-foot distance the furnace was required to be from the property line, especially in town where lots are small, and the 200 foot distance from another dwelling not served by the furnace.

The ordinance was tabled to consider whether the distance from another dwelling could be reduced to 125 feet.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

July 18, 2008

Law to regulate outdoor wood boilers

By EMILY HUNKLER, Enterprise Staff Writer

July 18, 2008

SARANAC LAKE - Amid the summer heat, village board members have drafted regulations regarding a contested method of producing heat in the colder months: outdoor wood boilers.

A new law, which will be up for a public hearing on July 28, sets regulations stipulating what to burn, how high the smokestack must be, and other variables, which, leading up to the bill's approval, have been non-existent.

Outdoor wood boilers have become an increasingly popular means of heating homes due to the exponentially rising cost of fuel and heating oil.

Outdoor wood boilers resemble small sheds with a smokestack. They have a burning chamber that is surrounded by a water jacket; the wood burned in the chamber heats the water, which is then transferred to the home to supply heat. The controversy comes from the smoke that is emitted from the burning process, which studies have shown has the potential to cause serious lung and respiratory conditions.

This is due to fine particulate matter in the smoke, which is small enough to be inhaled and lodge itself into the lung tissue. Chronic exposure to the matter may possibly cause asthma, heart and lung disease and cancer.

Currently, there is one permitted outdoor wood boiler in the village of Saranac Lake and there has been a six-month moratorium against any others being permitted since the second week of May.

The new regulations ensure that any future outdoor wood boilers permitted by the village will be in compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency's emission standards, marked with the EPA's "orange tag." This means they operate at a certain level of efficiency in terms of wood burned versus energy supplied.

The EPA regulations are voluntary and manufacturers of the devices are not required to meet them, however, many communities have adopted laws that enforce the orange tag boilers, such as the regulations proposed by Saranac Lake.

Other regulations that would be enforced, per passage of the bill into law, include the following:

Only clean wood or other listed fuels specifically permitted by the manufacturer's instructions are permitted to be burned.

The smokestack must extend two feet above the peak of any residence within 100 feet of the outdoor wood boiler.

The structure must be set back a minimum of 25 feet from all neighboring property lines and must be located in the rear of the residence it serves.

Outdoor wood boilers are only permitted to operate between Sept. 30 and May 1.

The proposed law also outlines possible penalties for not complying with the regulations, including the following:

First offense: A fine not exceeding $500 or imprisonment for up to six months, or both. Also, a permit suspension for use of the boiler.

Second offense within five years: A fine not less than $500 or more than $750 or imprisonment for up to six months, or both. Also a permit suspension for use of the boiler.

Third or subsequent offense within five years: A fine not less than $750 or more than $1,000 or imprisonment for up to six months, or both, and a revocation of the offender's permit for use of the boiler.

The proposed law will be submitted for a public hearing at 6 p.m. July 28, where it may either be adopted or revised.

Contact Emily Hunkler at 891-2600 ext. 24 or ehunkler@adirondackdailyenterprise.com.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

July 17, 2008

 Zoner declare moratorium on outdoor wood furnaces
Written by Kathleen Flaherty   
Thursday, July 17, 2008

After Tuesday night’s extension of a July 1 public hearing on the proposed zoning ordinance prohibiting “outdoor wood-burning furnaces,” the Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously to issue a one-year moratorium instead of an outright prohibition.

The commission recognizes that the wood stove industry is developing outdoor burners with significantly improved emissions levels, a fact echoed by Bob Roth of Wilton Road West, who attended the public hearing.

Not all furnaces, said Mr. Roth, are “belching out a stream of soot” or “blanketing the neighborhood with smoke.”

To that end, said Town Planner Betty Brosius, commissioners will use the time granted by a moratorium, or a temporary prohibition, to research regulations being developed for these outdoor furnaces by both state and federal agencies, which will help them develop Ridgefield-specific regulations for residents seeking to install the outdoor furnaces after the moratorium’s expiration date.

“In the next year, we will research what federal and state governments are doing to regulate higher efficiency stoves that might be acceptable and non-polluting,” added Ms. Brosius. “The rapidly rising price of oil means it’s going to be put on the forefront because residents may be looking for alternative sources of heating fuel.”

Although the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection has established standards regarding both the setback of outdoor wood-burning furnaces from surrounding residences and the height of the furnace’s smokestack, neither the DEP nor the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have adopted defined standards for “safe” emissions acceptable to all environments and circumstances.

It’s this concern about emissions that prompted the commission to propose a ban in the first place, according to documentation supporting the proposed amendment that summarizes information gathered from DEP and EPA reports: “The scale and duration of burning by outdoor woodburning furnaces creates noxious and hazardous smoke, soot, fumes, odors and air pollution.”

“We’re not against people making heat,” reiterated Commissioner Phil Mische in response to another resident’s concern that the commission is stomping on attempts to employ alternative energy sources. “We’re just against them making dirty air.”

As defined in the Connecticut Public Act 05-227, an outdoor wood-burning furnace is “an accessory structure or appliance designed to be located outside living space ordinarily used for human habitation and designed to transfer or provide heat, via liquid or other means, through the burning of wood or solid waste.” Furthermore, it is used to heat spaces other than where the wood-burning furnace is located “and any other structure or appliance on the premises. The furnace can also be used to heat domestic, swimming pool, hot tub or Jacuzzi water.” The definition does not include fire pots, wood-fired barbecues or chimineas.

Mark Alben of Tackora Trail pointed out to the commission that some brands of outdoor wood-burning furnaces can burn a variety of materials aside from wood – corn or oil being some examples. However, said Ms. Brosius, any furnace that can “burn wood” — regardless of what else it may be able to transfer into energy — will be subject to the moratorium.

The moratorium, said Ms. Brosius, will go into effect when a legal notice appears in The Ridgefield Press. Any resident who has already submitted an application for a building or zoning permit to install or operate an outdoor wood-burning furnace will not be subject to the moratorium.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

July 15, 2008

Somers commission OKs rules for wood-burning furnaces

By Stacey A. Silliman
Journal Inquirer
Published: Tuesday, July 15, 2008 12:12 PM EDT
SOMERS — The Zoning Commission unanimously approved a regulatory plan for outdoor wood-burning furnaces Monday that was endorsed by the Planning Commission.

Under the new regulations there will be a no-burn period between April 15 and Oct. 15, with possible exceptions for agriculture. The regulations also require that any new furnace be approved through a special use permit and follow state Department of Environmental Protection requirements for installation and use.

The new regulatory plan goes into effect the day after a legal notice describing the approved plan is published. Town Planner Patrice Carson speculated that could happen as soon as Thursday, July 17.

The commission first voted 2-1 against an outright ban on the furnaces, with Wesley Smith casting the lone vote in favor of a ban.

Smith said he was seeking to prevent any “Tom, Dick, or Harry” from installing a furnace in town.

“The random unregulated installation of these things in the community is something I’m really concerned about,” he told the commission.

After the ban was rejected, the commission voted 3-0 to regulate the furnaces.

The commission’s decision will add a zoning requirement along the lines of state regulations that require furnaces to be at least 200 feet away from a neighboring residence.

In addition, the smokestack height must be higher than any roof peak within 500 feet, but not higher than 55 feet.

Outdoor wood-burning furnaces are usually housed in sheds with tall smokestacks or chimneys designed to lessen the immediate impact from the smoke. The furnaces burn wood to heat water, which is then used to heat buildings or as hot water for showers and sinks.
 
Full Article: CLICK HERE

July 15, 2008

Ryan Twp. solicitor suggests outdoor wood-burning rule

BARNESVILLE — The Ryan Township solicitor recommended at Monday’s supervisors meeting that the township consider adopting an outdoor wood burning furnace ordinance.

BY LESLIE RICHARDSON
STAFF WRITER
lrichardson@republicanherald.com
Published: Tuesday, July 15, 2008 4:17 AM EDT

BARNESVILLE — The Ryan Township solicitor recommended at Monday’s supervisors meeting that the township consider adopting an outdoor wood burning furnace ordinance.

Christopher Reidlinger said because of the high cost of heating oil, the wood burners might begin popping up all over the township.

“You might want to set restrictions before too many pop up and you have to grandfather them in,” he said.

Reidlinger said some restrictions might include the smoke stack height, seasonal use only or setback requirements.

The supervisors tabled the idea until further discussion could be done.

In other business, Gary Moss was named as alternate to the Ryan Township Zoning Hearing Board.

Moss will only sit on the board if there are not enough members to have a quorum.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

July 15, 2008

Texas Twp. expands its business district (OWBs discussed)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

BY FRAN WILCOX

Special to the Gazette

Also Monday, township officials said they expect to extend or waive the Aug. 15 deadline for owners of outdoor wood boilers or furnaces to apply for a variance. The township recently adopted an ordinance banning new outdoor boilers and furnaces and restricting the use of existing ones to certain months, while requiring that they meet size, setback and other regulations.

But language for variance applications for operating existing outdoor boilers has not been finalized. The board reviewed a draft of the variance application Monday and expects to consider a revised version at its July 28 meeting.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

July 14, 2008

Ridgefield moratorium to be considered

Outdoor wood burning furnace ban to be on the table at public hearing
By Susan Tuz
STAFF WRITER

RIDGEFIELD -- With the high cost of heating oil, outdoor wood-burning furnaces have become more popular in Connecticut.

Taking this into consideration, the Planning and Zoning Commission penned an amendment to its zoning regulations that would prohibit the installation of the units in the town.

But six residents turning out for a public hearing July 1 on the proposed amendment turned the commissioners' thinking around.

They have modified the amendment to place a moratorium of one year on the acceptance of applications for and the installation of outdoor wood-burning furnaces.

The public hearing has been extended to Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. to hear input on the revised amendment. The commissioners will then consider the proposed amendment for action that night.

"A few residents have presented the fact to us that there are a few models of these furnaces available that have improved technology," said Betty Brosius, town planner.

"We're now aware of that but find it difficult to find evidence available to develop standards that would be right for Ridgefield. Within the moratorium time, it would be possible to develop those standards."

An outdoor wood-burning furnace is essentially a wood-fire boiler in a small, insulated shed with a smoke stack. It heats water that is carried through underground pipes to heat a home or building or hot water.

The EPA has developed regulations for emissions coming from these units, and the Department 

of Environmental Protection has a statute on them.

The DEP requires that the furnaces be at least 200 feet away from the nearest neighbor's residence and that the smoke stack be higher than the peak of the roofs of residences within 500 feet.

But Planning and Zoning is worried that the furnaces might not be a good fit for the town, with its close proximity of many homes, Brosius said.

"If not efficiently burned, the emissions of smoke from the wood are health hazards and a have a nuisance factor from the smell of heavy smoke," Brosius said.

Mike Harris is one of the residents who spoke out at the July 1 hearing. He would like to sell the newer, more efficient units called wood-burning gasification furnaces. These furnaces can be installed inside the basement of a home or outside, and he doesn't want the town to prevent people from using them.

"The primary difference is the gasification furnace has a system where forced air is blown back into the burning chamber, through the wood and into the embers into the combustion chamber, causing a high-temperature burn," Harris explained.

"When the gas produced is blown out the chimney, a stick of 16-inch wood will emit as much smoke as a cigarette would."

Jaimeson Sinclair, supervising air pollution control engineer with the DEP, said that "from a scientific standpoint" the gasification furnaces "should burn with less smoke than the outdoor wood-burning furnaces that don't have the gasification aspect. But the DEP doesn't have concrete data on them yet."

"In the past two years we've received hundreds of complaints on maybe hundreds of the outdoor wood-burning furnaces," Sinclair said. "The problem is the thick smoke they put out. From an engineering perspective, they don't reach optimal temperature for burning the wood efficiently."

"Also, you can stoke the unit on one day and burn that charge of wood for two to three days. When the heat is not needed, the air flow is cut and incomplete combustion creates a great deal of smoke that billows out of the chimney when the damper opens again," he added.

At this time, there is one outdoor wood-burning furnace in Ridgefield, put in three years ago after the DEP passed its regulations. Brosius said the town has received no complaints about it.

There is one application pending for another outdoor wood-burning furnace and the building inspector is requiring assurances it meets DEP regulations before he will issue a permit.

n

The public hearing on the proposed amendment to the zoning regulations on outdoor wood-burning furnaces is Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., at Planning and Zoning's lower level meeting room, in the Town Hall Annex, 66 Prospect St.

Contact Susan Tuz

at stuz@newstimes.com

or (203) 731-3352.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

July 13, 2008

Burning question (OWBs)

Is using wood for energy worth the effort, side effects?

By ETHAN MAGOC
ethan.magoc@timesnews.com

The drawbacks
If you live in the city or an area where neighbors are close by, a wood furnace probably isn't a solid heating alternative.

"When I really get this thing going, even my wife hates the smell from the plumes of smoke that come out of it," Larson said.

Miaczynski said he hasn't had any complaints from neighbors, but his closest one is 300 feet away.

Jim Smith, owner of Smith Enterprises in Waterford, sells the wood furnaces and owns two of them himself -- one for his home and one for his business.


"If I lived in the city, I wouldn't want a guy right next to me buying one," Smith said. "You have to take your neighbors into consideration."

Staci Gustafson, operations chief for the Department of Environmental Protection in Meadville, said the agency currently does not enforce residential use of the wood furnaces.

However, DEP is developing a model ordinance to advise homeowners on how to properly use the furnaces.

"We do receive complaints from neighbors about too much smoke, and it's something we're concerned about," Gustafson said.

"People are installing these in places you wouldn't expect them, and sometimes the smoke will vent right into the neighbor's second-floor window."


For the furnace owner, an electrical bill spike is another common negative in wood boiler use.

It takes large amounts of electricity for the unit's fans to push the heat through the pipes and into the home.

Miaczynski saw a $20 monthly increase in his electrical bill after installing his unit. Larson's increase was similar.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

July 11, 2008

Health board drafts ordinance to regulate outdoor woodburners
Inaccurate rumors pollute debate over outside furnaces

Richard Moore
Investigative Reporter

Friday, July 11, 2008

Concerned about emissions of particulate matter from outdoor wood-fired furnaces, the Oneida County Health Department is shaping an ordinance to regulate their use, but this past week concerns about the ordinance spewed forth their own thick clouds of particulate rumors, most of them inaccurate.

The Lakeland Times received multiple phone calls this week from citizens who heard the county was planning to ban the units. That's not so, but, as The Times has previously reported, there is a push to control their placement and stack height and to require permits, among other things.

So far, the county board of health has not approved a final resolution to send to the county board, but a draft is in place. That document may well morph into something different: the board of health has requested and is awaiting a comparison table of other local outdoor woodburning furnace ordinances, health department director Linda Conlon told The Times in an email.

As it stands now, though, the draft code would allow outdoor woodburning units/outdoor furnaces with an approved permit from the zoning department; the units would have to meet emission standards required by the Environmental Protection Agency and by the Outdoor Furnace Manufacturer's Caucus of the Hearth, Patio and Barbeque Association.

Specifically, the draft states, regulated units would include any accessory structure or appliance designed for use outside the principal structure to heat any principal or accessory structure on the premise through the transfer of heat via liquid or other means, by burning wood or other solid fuels.

Only natural untreated wood could be burned in the units. Lawfully operated fire pits, open burning, barbecues, fryers, grills and chimneys would not be regulated under the ordinance.

Outdoor wood-fired furnaces would have to be placed no less than 200 feet from any residence not served by the furnace. For existing units within that 200 feet boundary, the stack would have to be at least two feet higher than the peak of adjacent properties.

For units located between 200 and 500 feet of any residence not served by the furnace, the stack height would have to reach at least to the peak of adjacent properties.

A one-time permit for new units would be required under the ordinance. Owners of existing furnaces would have one year to obtain the needed permit for each unit, provided the stack height met the ordinance's requirements.

Why the regulation is needed

The ordinance has been drafted, Conlon says, because outdoor wood-fired furnaces can pose a serious health hazard, particularly in residential areas.

"The reason for the ordinance is that research has proven that the types of fuel used, and the scale and duration of burning by outdoor woodburning furnaces, creates noxious and hazardous smoke, soot, fumes, odors and air pollution, and can be detrimental to citizens' health and can deprive neighboring residents of the enjoyment of their property or premises," she said. 

Conlon said outdoor wood-fired furnaces are designed to maintain fire over long periods of time, and are designed to operate at low temperatures when not heating. What's more, she said, they frequently have a lower chimney height than an indoor stove. 

"Restricted airflow and low operating temperatures can cause smoldering that results in excessive smoke," Conlon said. "The smoke can cause both acute and chronic health problems if nearby residents are exposed. The adoption of a local ordinance regulating outdoor wood stoves is currently the best way to address these issues proactively."

According to the state Department of Health Services, wood smoke contains a concoction of at least 100 different compounds in the form of gases and fine sooty particulate matter. Those include six of the Environmental Protection Agency's "criteria pollutants" in the National Ambient Air Quality Standard, including ozone, carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides, particulate matter, and sulfur dioxide.

What you do to me

The negative health impacts associated with such airborne toxins include coughing and difficult or painful breathing, increased susceptibility to respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia and bronchitis, eye and nose irritation, hospitalization for heart or lung diseases, and premature death, the DHS asserts, while exposure to particulate matter can trigger or aggravate respiratory and cardiovascular problems.

"[The particulate matter] are so small that they behave much like gases - they can penetrate homes, even when windows and doors are closed," the DHS website states. "PM can lodge deep in the lungs of those exposed to wood smoke, and are not easily expelled. . . . In particular, wood smoke can be harmful to the elderly, babies, children, and pregnant women.

The chance a person will experience health effects as a result of exposure to smoke depends on the concentration of air pollutants they breathe and the duration of their exposure."

Again, the agency emphasized, the location of the unit is an important factor in determining the degree of risk it may pose.

"Because most [outdoor wood-fired furnaces] have very short stacks and are located close to homes, there is a greater potential for emissions to create a health hazard for those living near the unit, including neighbors," the DHS states. "In areas where homes are not close together, the use of an OWB may not be a health hazard for neighbors."

Another factor in the need for regulation, officials say, is that many people burn a lot more than natural wood in the furnaces, including particleboard and treated woods, as well as garbage and plastics.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has developed a model ordinance for municipalities and counties to follow; the draft Oneida County ordinance is only slightly different.

The DNR model ordinance, for instance, suggests requiring a minimum distance of at least 300 feet between the unit and the nearest building that is not on the same property. The draft county ordinance would be somewhat more lenient, imposing only a 200-foot separation between the unit and the nearest residence not served by the unit.

On the other hand, the county ordinance mirrors the DNR's recommendation on stack height. For units installed after the effective date of the code, it would require chimneys to reach to the peak of any residences within 200 and 500 feet of the unit.

As The Times has reported, the county's zoning committee has already nixed a board of health request to help write the ordinance. The zoning department would be in charge of issuing permits for the units, because that department regulates structures and is set up to issue permits for structures, while the health department is not.

Still, zoning committee members felt the matter was a health issue, not a zoning one, and decided to let the board of health take its own resolution to the county board and to have the county board, if it so desired, direct the zoning committee to get involved.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

July 9, 2008

Neighbors resolve furnace dispute


MERCERSBURG, July 9 -- Complaints about a wood boiler furnace in Mercersburg have been resolved, according to Assistant Borough Manager Tammy M. Oberholzer.

She said today that the issue was resolved by the neighbors and without attorneys.

Bruce Jacobs, the owner of the furnace at 240 Linden Ave., realized it was emitting a lot of smoke and he decided to stop using the furnace, Oberholzer said.

Earlier this year, 25 people signed a formal nuisance complaint about the furnace. It was initiated by Robert and Thelma Rockwell of 9 E. Grandview Ave. and submitted to Mercersburg Borough Council.

Council asked its borough attorney to review the case. However, the attorney said it would be a conflict of interest since his firm has represented Jacobs in the past. The case was then referred to attorney Paul Schemel. However, he left in June for a work assignment in Iraq.

Council was hoping to soon have an attorney to help resolve the matter, Borough Manager Jason Cohen said in an earlier interview.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

July 9, 2008

Town weighs "moratorium" on wood furnaces

Written by Kathleen Flaherty   

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

A public hearing on the proposed zoning ordinance prohibiting “outdoor wood-burning furnaces” has been extended to next Tuesday, July 15.

At the initial public hearing last Tuesday, not all members of the public — and even members of the commission — were convinced that there are absolutely “no outdoor stoves that meet regulations,” as commissioner Michael Autuori put it.

 “We want to opt in the interest of public safety,” he said, but doesn’t feel the commisson has enough information to declare that “absolutely nothing will work.”

Residents of Ridgefield, and even as far away as Shelton, pointed out at the July 1 hearing that some companies in the outdoor wood-burning furnace industry are making a conscious effort to reduce the polluting potential of their products.

The Garn boiler, produced by the Dectra Corporation of St. Anthony, Minn., is just one example. According to “Clearing the Air,” an article pulled from Northern Woodlands magazine  distributed at the initial hearing, the Garn boiler separates the burning of wood and the storage of heat into two separate stages, which makes the wood burn more efficiently. Consequently, this particular furnace emits less damaging particles into the air.

As a result of the dialogue, Town Planner Betty Brosius decided to research the possibility of alternatives to such a “blanket ban” —  the suggested alternative is a moratorium, or a temporary prohibition, on the outdoor wood-burning furnaces.

“I have found that it is possible to do a moratorium instead of a prohibition if the commission feels they would like to go in that direction,” said Ms. Brosius.

The commission could use time allowed by a moratorium to research appropriate federal and state regulations for these furnaces, that would help the commission develop regulations of its own for residents seeking to install them after the moratorium expires.

According to Ms. Brosius, the commission would research regulations being developed by the Environmental Protection Agency and Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, which would make the commission “more comfortable writing a regulation that would be appropriate for Ridgefield.”

In the next year, she added, “We would research what federal and state goverments are doing to regulate higher efficiency stoves that might be acceptable and non-polluting.”  

Heating up

The proposed ban on outdoor wood-burning furnaces was prompted over reports from sources like the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that “the scale and duration of burning by outdoor woodburning furnaces creates noxious and hazardous smoke, soot, fumes, odors and air pollution,” according to documentation of the proposed amendment.

As defined in the Connecticut Public Act 05-227, an outdoor wood-burning furnace is “an accessory structure or appliance designed to be located outside living space ordinarily used for human habitation and designed to transfer or provide heat, via liquid or other means, through the burning of wood or solid waste.” Furthermore, it is used to heat spaces other than where the wood-burning furnace is located and “and any other structure or appliance on the premises.” The furnace can also be used to heat domestic, swimming pool, hot tub or Jacuzzi water.” The definition does not include  fire pots, wood-fired barbecues or chimineas.

Ms. Brosius said written comment can be submitted to the commission at the town hall annex before or at the hearing on Tuesday.

Planning & Zoning Commission chairman Rebecca Mucchetti encouraged those present at the first hearing or anyone else to submit comments for the hearing’s continuation. “That’s the great thing about a public hearing — you get input or information that you might not have otherwise.”

After Tuesday’s public hearing, the Planning & Zoning Commission will decide whether to go forward with a ban of the OWFs or to consider a moratorium to allow time for research and to develop regulations.

The public hearing will start at 7:30 p.m. and will be held in the town hall annex by Yanity Gym.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

July 7, 2008

News briefs for July 7 (Grand Rapids Press, MI)

 CALEDONIA/GAINES: Caledonia's Planning Commission has crafted a draft ordinance that would regulate outdoor furnaces. The proposed ordinance would limit outdoor furnaces to 100 feet from the nearest neighboring building and 50 feet from the nearest property line. It also would prohibit them from front yards and require the smoke stack to be taller than the roof peaks of any homes within 300 feet of the furnace. Officials said they expect to get more requests for such furnaces, which burn wood and corn, as fuel prices continue to soar. The Village Council will make a final decision on any regulations.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

July 2, 2008

Back to the future for heating Maine?
By Victoria Wallack
State House News Service

AUGUSTA (July 2): Facing a winter where home heating oil likely will be $4.50 or more a gallon, a task force created by the governor believes the public is ready to start making the switch back to the state’s most plentiful homegrown resource – wood.

The goal is to convert 10 percent of home oil-based heating systems to wood in five years, using pellet or wood chip technology, according to a draft report released by Gov. John Baldacci’s Wood-to-Energy Task Force.

Department of Conservation Commissioner Pat McGowan, who serves on the task force, also would like to see a similar conversion in public buildings, like schools, state government offices, municipal buildings and prisons.

McGowan said last week his department may recommend a bond package next year to help fund that conversion for schools.

McGowan declined to estimate the size of the bond, saying he wants to first see what incentives the federal Department of Energy under a new administration will be offering, but government must play a role.

“We will recommend more intensive conversion of Maine schools and it could be matched with a bond proposal in 2009,” McGowan said.

The task force will be recommending a government buy-back program to get old, inefficient and polluting wood-burning stoves out of homes and replace them with more efficient burners.

“The task force is concerned that high heating oil costs will shift more homes and small businesses into the use of already installed, older, highly polluting wood stoves. This is not only an air pollution concern, but also a more general public safety concern over the potential for increased chimney fires,” the report says.

No price tag has been put on that initiative.

Not everybody likes the wood-to-energy idea. The state’s oil dealers see a loss of business; conservationists worry about the stress more wood-burning could put on Maine forests; and, pulp and paper manufactures see the price of their wood supply going up with new competition in the market.

But, few can deny the state’s vulnerable position.

An estimated 80 percent of Maine homes are heated by oil – the highest percentage of any state in the country.

And, home heating oil hit a statewide average price of $4.60 per gallon last week, according to a survey done by the state.

Les Otten, the former owner of Sugarloaf and Sunday River and one-time part owner of the Boston Red Sox, was picked by the governor to be chairman of the task force. His role has sparked controversy since he announced in May that he was starting a company in Maine to sell wood pellet furnaces. His partners in that venture – William Strauss and Harry Dresser – also serve as members of the task force.

Otten said the governor picked him knowing he planned to start the company – something the governor’s office confirmed – because of his enthusiasm for wood energy.

“This group was formed because the governor is interested in pellets,” he said. “This isn’t helping my business.”

Wood pellets can be made from either hardwood or softwood. The wood is dried and pulverized and then forced under pressure through the holes in a die. Under the system Otten is selling, which is made by the German appliance maker, Bosch, the pellets would be delivered by a service truck into a storage bin that would feed the furnace on demand.

Right now the demand for pellets is most manifest anecdotally in the sale of wood pellet stoves, rather than the full-blown heating systems that Otten is selling for around $13,000. Those stoves are seen as an auxiliary to an oil-burning furnace.

And Otten admits the task force’s work, in general, is more long-term.

“We can’t do anything about this winter,” he said, because getting 10 percent of homes off oil will take five to seven years.

The more immediate concern of some task force members is the potential for air pollution if there is a big shift to cord wood burning this winter, particularly in old stoves or outdoor wood burners not up to emission standards.

The report specifically mentioned outdoor wood boilers, which have become popular in some areas.

“Outdoor wood boiler systems will not be recommended since they are known heavy polluters that have measured significant environmental impact,” the draft report says.

The American Lung Association of Maine is currently doing an inventory of what people are heating with now so it can estimate pollution problems this winter.

“We are expecting there are not going to be a good number of EPA-approved stoves brought into use,” said Ed Miller of the American Lung Association in Maine. “There will be more complaints. More people with concerns about their kids’ asthma.”

That, however, may be a reality Maine has to live with in the short term.

“What are you going to do?” asked task force member, Strauss. “We can’t tell them to turn it off and freeze to death.”

The task force will meet again next week, with the goal of finalizing its report at the end of July. After a public hearing, the report will be presented to Baldacci, who can then recommend policy changes to the Legislature.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

July 1, 2008

East Fishkill drafting outdoor furnace law

By Michael Woyton
Poughkeepsie Journal

HOPEWELL JUNCTION - Rising fuel costs have forced Jeffrey Roosa to use his outdoor wood-burning furnace year-round.

"I can't afford to pay for gas," the Hopewell Junction resident said.

Roosa said he's only had one complaint over the three years he's had the device, and that was solved by extending the smoke stack 8 feet above his house's ridge line.

He came to a recent East Fishkill town board meeting to speak during a public hearing on regulating outdoor furnaces.

The hearing on the local law will be continued at the board's July 24 meeting.

Hyde Park, Beekman and Red Hook have already passed laws restricting outdoor furnaces.

If the East Fishkill law is passed as drafted, new furnaces could only be placed on 3-acre lots and set back not less than 200 feet from the nearest lot lines while being within 20 feet of the houses they serve.

Owners of existing furnaces would be exempt from those regulations. All furnaces owners would be required to get permits from the building inspector.

The devices would only be allowed to operate between Sept. 1 and May 31.

Untreated lumber and firewood would be the only permitted fuels. The law specifically excludes burning any other material, including trash, plastics and leaves.

If existing furnaces weren't grandfathered, Roosa said he would be in a difficult position.

"You would be very seriously hurting me," he said to the board. "I would have to sell my house."

Supervisor John Hickman said that was not the intention of the legislation.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

June 28, 2008

Town may ban outdoor wood-fired furnaces

Written by Macklin Reid   
Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Vermont farmers’ solution to soaring heating oil prices may not be a welcome neighbor in the two-acre suburbs, where McMansions are clustered like stone-veneer dandelions.

“I just got an oil delivery. It was $5 a gallon. How can people afford that?” said Town Planner Betty Brosius.

"And yet, these wood burning furnaces, because they produce so much smoke, are not appropriate for a dense residential area.”

A proposed zoning ordinance prohibiting “outdoor wood-burning furnaces” goes to a public hearing next Tuesday, July 1, starting at 7:30 in the town annex by Yanity gym.

These outdoor furnaces, also called outdoor wood-fired boilers, aren’t wood stoves or fireplaces inside a house, they’re freestanding affairs.

“A shed-like structure sits 20 or 30 feet out into the yard, and there are heated pipes of water that go into the house,” Ms. Brosius said.

The town’s proposed ordinance says such an “accessory structure or appliance” may by “the burning of wood or solid waste” simple provide heat or be used “for heating domestic, swimming pool, hot tub or Jacuzzi water.”

There is at least one such outdoor wood furnace in town, according to Building Official Bill Reynolds, and one in Wilton is visible from Route 33.

Rural areas

“These furnaces are being looked at by more people now, because of the cost of oil,” said Ms. Brosius.

“You see them a lot in more rural areas,” she said. “...To have them located in a more densely populated area can be dangerous to people’s health.”

The concern is the smoke.

The state Department of Environmental Protection says:

“Smoke from wood burning can have serious health consequences. Wood smoke consists of small airborne particles ... that can become lodged in your lungs making breathing difficult and leading to more serious short-term and chronic health problems for certain sensitive populations...”

That would be folks with asthma, respiratory problems, heart conditions, kids or seniors.

The town’s proposed regulation says: “Outdoor wood burning furnaces, by their very nature and use, are likely to create pollution of the air and also likely to be hazardous to the health, safety and welfare of residents in Ridgefield...”

The state Department of Environmental Protection requires that outdoor wood-burning furnaces be at least 200 feet from the nearest residence, with smokestack that is “higher than the roof peak of any residence within 500 feet, but not more than 55 feet high.”

The town proposes taking a simpler approach, and banning them altogether.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

June 25, 2008

North Middleton resident seeks boiler restriction

William Fry doesn’t want to ban outdoor wood-fired boilers.

The North Middleton man would like to see the township put some restrictions on them, though.

For the past three years, he has been dealing with air quality problems associated with a nearby boiler on Waggoners Gap Road.

“I’m not opposed to anyone trying to cut down on energy,” Fry said. “But this is basically a health situation.”

His wife, Elyzabeth, has serious asthma issues, so whatever leaves the outside burner after it has sat and smoldered travels to his property and can have an impact on her, he explained. “My concern is the summer months,” he said, noting how emissions have forced the family inside on multiple occasions.

The irritant affects his wife’s breathing and requires her to use inhalers in addition to her regular medication, he added.

A popular alternative to combat the high cost of home heating oil, boilers are designed to provide heat and hot water year-round. Owners tend to use them in the warmer months, not only for domestic hot water but to heat swimming pools and hot tubs.

Usage proposal

Fry came before the board of supervisors earlier this month, asking the township take a look at its burn ordinance and attempt to regulate boilers.

“I think there ought to be a stipulation of what is burned in them,” he said. “Other townships and boroughs put restrictions on them.”

He cited Cornwall, South Lebanon, Middlesex and Newburg townships as municipalities that have enacted or are considering restrictions.

Fry has proposed a restriction on boilers from May 1 to Sept. 30 in North Middleton.

“I am not going to continue to have my wife go through asthma attacks when it’s not necessary,” he said.

Full Article:  CLICK HERE

June 16, 2008

Outdoor wood furnace use regulated in Lawrence Twp.

Monday, June 16, 2008

By JEAN JONES

jeanjones@fast.net

LAWRENCE TWP. -- The township committee has introduced an ordinance regulating the installation and use of outdoor wood furnaces, after complaints from neighbors of those who have already installed them.

Many of the complaints were because of the materials being burned in them, but others were because of what were considered inadequate chimneys, odor and closeness to neighboring homes.

The new ordinance requires the furnaces to be installed, maintained and operated according to manufacturer's directions. Fuel is limited to natural, untreated wood, wood pellets, corn products or other fuels permitted by the manufacturer.

Banned are garbage or refuse, food wastes and packaging, plastic materials, including nylon, PVC, polystyrene or other synthetic fabrics or films, rubber, including tires, newspaper, cardboard or any paper with ink or dye products, or other materials not specifically allowed by the manufacturer.

The furnaces must be located at least 100 feet from the property line and 200 feet from any residence not served by the furnace. The chimney must extend 20 feet above the ground or at least two feet above the peak of any residence not served by the furnace which is less than 300 feet away.

Existing furnaces must comply with the stack height requirements if there is new construction within 300 feet. The furnaces may be used only from Sept. 15 to May 1 unless the closest residence not serviced by the unit is more than 500 feet away.

The penalty for a violation will be $200 for each week of the offense.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

June 13, 2008

City considers boiler policy

Published Friday, June 13, 2008

Members of the Fergus Falls Planning Commission are in the process of establishing an ordinance regulating outdoor fire boilers.

“We thought by doing an ordinance we could regulate them, take care of the environment and keep the neighbors happy at the same time,” Daryl Johnson, building inspector and zoning administrator, told commission members Monday.

On recommendation from City Attorney Rolf Nycklemoe, the commission is considering a boiler ordinance similar to the one for the City of Oronoco. The ordinance would apply to outdoor fired boilers, stoves and furnaces used to burn clean wood, not to campfires or devices used to provide heat. Burning materials including rubber, asphalt, treated or painted wood, plastic, food wastes and construction debris would not be permitted. Violating the ordinance would be a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of at least $150 plus the cost of prosecution.

On Monday commission members discussed several tenets of the ordinance before sending it to the city attorney for revisions. The commission will review the proposal at a later meeting before sending it to the city council for approval.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

June 11, 2008

Ligonier Township supervisors release firms from insurance (OWB Article)

By A.J. Panian
TRIBUNE REVIEW
Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The board also heard from Waterford resident Paul Laposky, who asked the board to consider adopting an ordinance to regulate the use of outdoor wood-burning furnaces between April 15 and Oct. 15.

Laposky claimed smoke created by a neighbor's outdoor furnace near his Harvey Road home is reducing his quality of life.

"I should have the right to open the window and breath and smell clean air. Right now, me and my family can't do that," Laposky said. "Banning use in the summer months is something other states have done, so it's something I'd like the board to consider."

Komar advised Laposky to file a complaint with the township code enforcement office pertaining to the nuisance ordinance.

"If I got smoked off of my porch, I'd have a problem with it, too," Komar said.

A.J. Panian can be reached at apanian@tribweb.com.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

June 6, 2008

Wood-Fired Boiler Exceeds Air Emission Standards; Hibbing Public Utilities Penalized

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 06/06/2008
Contact: Anne Perry Moore (218) 723-2356 Toll-free: 1-800-657-3864

Duluth, Minn. -- The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and Hibbing Public Utilities Commission (Hibbing PUC) recently reached an enforcement settlement that resolved the company's past failure to comply with state air quality rules and permit conditions. The settlement addresses violations of carbon-monoxide and fugitive-dust emissions and visible emissions limits that occurred in 2007 during operation of Hibbing PUC's new, wood-fired boiler. As a result, Hibbing PUC has paid a $44,500 penalty and has taken actions to correct identified problems.

Hibbing PUC's facility provides steam heat for city customers and generates electrical power. In late 2006, the facility installed a wood-fired boiler to burn wood biomass harvested in the Hibbing area. Adding this type of boiler to its fuel mix lowered the facility's dependence on coal for fuel and reduced its related carbon emissions. However, operational problems have caused emissions violations since the boiler's installation. Hibbing PUC continues to work with the equipment suppliers to improve the boiler's operation and reduce emissions.

Minnesota law requires owners and operators of facilities with the potential to release air pollutants to have MPCA permits. They must also carefully monitor and maintain equipment because emissions exceeding state standards can degrade air quality. The MPCA offers outreach and training to help facilities meet their permit requirements. For more information on air quality permits and emission standards, call Steve Palzkill, MPCA air quality inspector, at (218) 529-6255 or (800) 657-3864.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

June 4, 2008 (Canada)

Outdoor furnaces harmful

By Joan Silver - 100 Mile House Free Press - June 04, 2008

Heating your home with an outside furnace could harm your neighbours and yourself - and the government can’t do anything about it.

Outdoor wood-fired boilers produce more smoke than other wood burning appliances and can emit more than four times the particulate matter of a heavy duty diesel truck. Particulate matter is a complex mixture of extremely small solids and liquid droplets, much smaller than the cross-section of a human hair.

They are the primary pollutant of concern in most of B.C.

Outdoor boilers are promoted as a form of reducing heating costs. They also keep smoke and mess out of the house and are easy to use, since they are controlled by a thermostat inside the house.

Ministry of Environment air quality meteorologist Earle Plain said complaints about smoke from the boilers are increasing every year.

He made a power-point presentation to the District of 100 Mile House council meeting on May 27, with Cariboo Regional directors Al Richmond and Art Dumaresq in attendance, pointing to the need to restrict the use and installation of the outdoor boilers.

Plain said there are a number of problems with the units, starting with the design, which produces more smoke than other wood burning appliances.

That smoke is the result of sporadic combustion; no combustion controls, such as a catalytic or secondary converter; and the short stack height, which fails to disperse smoke.

The boilers have a low efficiency of 45 to 60 per cent and if used to heat water are used all year long, not just during the winter home heating season.

Plain said another problem is the units can burn anything, which can create even more pollution.

The provincial government has no regulations covering outdoor wood-fired boilers so a number of regional districts are enacting bylaws to deal with the units.

Fire Chief Darrell Blades said there are none within the municipality.

Al Richmond said the environment ministry can control burn piles when there are air quality issues but has no ability to control smoke from the boilers.

Plain said he expects the ministry will restrict the sale of the

boilers without an emissions certification similar to wood stoves.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

June 4, 2008

Neighbors upset over outdoor wood burner smoke

By Tammy Compton
Wayne Independent
Texas Township -

Neighbors downwind from outdoor wood boilers (OWB) are breathing in the smoke, says John Duda of Texas Township. Height requirements on smoke stacks would improve the problem, he told the Texas Township Supervisors at Monday’s meeting.

Speaking on behalf of several neighbors, the Shady Lane resident said he’s concerned for their health. He says conditions, such as chronic emphysema, are further irritated by the smoke from the OWBs, also known as outdoor wood burners.

“I just want to make it clear that I have nothing against them (OWBs are used as a heating source for hot water or forced hot water heating). It’s a great way to save money, and you’re forced to do that with the price of gas now,” Duda said.  But at the same time, 10-foot high smoke stacks don’t get the job done. “With 10 feet in the air, you’re on your front porch, that’s hitting you right in your face. And this is 24 hours a day ...365 days out of the year,” he said, “Get it (the smoke stack height) above the house.”


“The typical output of an outdoor wood burner is ten times higher than a wood stove ...The output on outdoor wood burners is 72 grams of particulate matter per hour. A diesel truck is 30 grams per hour,” he said. Duda says OWBs output more than double the particulates of  a diesel truck. “And everybody’s been behind one of those,” he said. Particulate matter from OWBs is comprised of creosote, carbon monoxide, carcinogens, soot, inorganic ash and more.


Duda said he was wondering if the township was going to adopt standards when it comes to outdoor wood burners. Zoning Enforcement Officer Lee S. Krause said the Planning Commission will look into it. “We might do something with stack height,” he said.


Also discussed

• Krause said a burn ordinance already exists in Texas Township — part of the International Fire Code through the International Code Council or I.C.C.  The township had been looking into adopting a burn ordinance. “It’s already in effect. We don’t have to build the  whole thing from scratch like we were doing. We just need to enforce that,” Krause said. Enforcement must come through a Fire Code Official, an I.C.C. schooled individual, Krause said. The Board appointed Krause.


Krause said he would be giving copies of the burn ordinance to the press in future, to explain the highlights. “Even open burning will require a permit. It’s in effect now. It’s just that we didn’t know about everything.


“(A burn barrel) has to have a lid on it or setbacks, so I think a lot of this burning that’s going on in Seelyville won’t be happening anymore,” he said. Questioned if it specified plastics couldn’t be burned, Krause said, “That was already in effect, state-wide.”  Krause said he has the power to inspect property without notification.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

June 4, 2008

Jefferson Twp. considering restrictions on outdoor furnaces

By KIRK SWAUGER
The Tribune-Democrat

June 4, 2008

BAKERSVILLE – As home-heating oil prices skyrocket, outdoor wood-burning furnaces are becoming an attractive alternative.
Jefferson Township supervisors will hold a meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday in the new Bakersville fire hall to consider an ordinance that would restrict – but not ban – the furnaces.
“They tried to find a good compromise,” township Secretary Melanie Peters said. “We were having trouble right in the village of Bakersville, where you have houses close together.”
Among other restrictions, the ordinance will dictate how high the chimneys must be and how close the furnaces can be to neighboring properties and homes.
The meeting will be followed by the supervisors’ regular monthly meeting, also at the fire hall.
Somerset, Berlin, Meyersdale, Jennerstown and Boswell boroughs and Somerset and Jenner townships are among Somerset County municipalities that either have such ordinances in place or are considering restrictions.
“Anytime you tell people they have to comply with something, they’re not always happy,” Somerset Township Secretary Jack Biancotti said. “But it really hasn’t been a problem.
“We’ve had very few of them installed. They’re really sort of suitable for out in very rural areas.”

If you go
What: Jefferson Township meeting on outdoor furnace regulations.
When: 7 p.m. Thursday.
Where: Bakersville fire hall.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

June 2, 2008 (firewood)

This isn't an article about OWB's, however is an article talking about the increase of price of firewood. So once again how is this method cost-efficient using an OWB?

Firewood demand is soaring

BY AMY CALDER
Staff Writer, Kennebec Journal Morning Sentinel

Annie Manley is seeing things she's never seen and hearing stories she's never heard before as office manager at J&M Logging in Augusta.

"People that usually order two or three cords of wood are ordering five or six now," she said. "It's amazing. Just this month -- the month of May -- we've cut about 135 cord."

Manley and others who deal in firewood say the demand is increasing significantly as the price of oil skyrockets.

People are afraid they will not be able to afford to heat their homes this winter; older people who should not be lugging wood are planning to buy outdoor boilers, Manley said.

"People are really scared," she said. "I'm finding new people are getting into wood stoves -- and they don't know how to use them. The oil price is turning people to wood."

Mark Pearson, co-owner of J&M, says the company charges $220 for a cord of wood, a price he increased from $180.

"I hated to go up," he said. "I didn't want to, but you can't survive if you lose money on every cord you sell."

He said he had to increase the price due to a combination of factors, including the cost of fuel and demand for hardwood at the pulp mill.

"You feel bad, because a lot of the people we sell to, we know. The fact is, if we can't do it and make somewhat of a profit or just break even, we won't be there to serve at all. The alternative is not to do it at all."

Smaller firewood dealers also are seeing a greater demand as fuel costs increase. Thomas Tracy, owner of Arbormore Tree Service, of Rome, spends most of the year doing tree work and in the winter when things slow down, he works in firewood. Last year he cut and sold about 30 cord; this year he expects to do 50, he said.

"The demand this year is a lot more than I've seen it," Hall said Friday.

He sells the wood for $230 a cord, a price he says many people think is too high.

But he buys tree-length wood for $115 a cord and spends about four hours cutting, stacking, splitting by hand and then re-stacking it. Because he is self-employed, he has to make a certain amount of money per hour, he said.

"I have to hold on to my prices. It takes a good four hours to process a cord. People get scared when you tell them it's $230."

Bill Howard, owner of B.H.D. Enterprises on Route 27 in New Vineyard, sells green firewood for $190 a cord and adds a delivery charge if he has to go outside a 20-mile radius because of the cost of diesel fuel to truck it.

He said demand for firewood is way up, and people are buying more than usual to prepare for this winter. Many are converting from oil heat to wood heat, he said.

"I am planning on doing the same," he said. "I was buying all kerosene and I'm going to convert back to wood."

He said his price of wood changes from week to week, depending on how much he has to pay for it. He buys tree-length wood and cuts and splits it.

"As the market goes up at the mills, so does my firewood price," he said.

He makes sure people get the wood they need, he said.

"People can come around the clock. If you run out of wood at night, I'm always open. I'm selling it by the bundle, by the armful or by the truckload. People can come and get a rack. They're four-by-four racks with a tier of firewood on them. They're $30 each. For an average household, it's three days worth of heat."

He said he is getting calls from people as far away as Portland, wanting to know if he will deliver.

Like Howard, Rick Heatley of R.H. Tree Specialists in Athens, says he plans to get an outside wood boiler, which costs about $7,100, to heat his home. Because he has a tree business, he cuts his own wood.

"I think it'll pay for itself in two years," he said of the boiler.

Heatley does not sell firewood but is familiar with the market. He says a cord of wood in the Athens area goes for between $150 and $200 a cord.

In some places, people are stealing wood because they need it so desperately, he said. As the cost of fuel goes up, people are going to be hurting more, he said.

"How do people afford to buy gas to go to work on minimum wage -- and pay for food and lights and heat?" he said. "How about the poor ones who have day care on top of that? It's sad."

Amy Calder -- 861-9247

acalder@centralmaine.com

Full Article: CLICK HERE

June 1, 2008

Outdoor furnace debate could get hotter

Posted by Kirsten Fredrickson | Special to the Gazette June 01, 2008 05:00AM

TEXAS TOWNSHIP -- Depending on whom you ask, outdoor furnaces or boilers are either underregulated, pollution-prone nuisances or unobtrusive, cost-efficient ways to heat homes.

One thing, though, seems certain: More rural and suburban areas will be grappling with how to deal with them.

In Texas Township, where population growth has sometimes clashed with its rural roots, trustees have adopted a ban on outdoor furnaces that takes effect later this month. Fueled by increasing nuisance complaints from residents, the township board also put seasonal, setback and other restrictions on existing units.

As the first community in the Kalamazoo area to establish an ordinance, and with no state or federal guidelines and scant examples elsewhere to follow, Texas Township officials struggled in crafting rules to regulate the outdoor furnaces.

"We sit here really kind of naked trying to come up with the best ordinance," Supervisor Ron Commissaris said May 12, as the township board prepared to pass its new rules after several months of consideration and public input.

"There's a lot of passion involved in this issue on both sides," Clerk Linda Kerr said.

An outdoor furnace has been described as looking like a small shed with a short smokestack. The Texas Township ordinance defines one as a "boiler or furnace, fueled by wood, coal or other types of fuel, located outside the structure it is used to heat, with the designated purpose of providing indoor heat for water and/or air for a residence or other structure."

As costs to heat with gas and other sources climb and more people look to alternate heating sources, the issue of regulating outdoor furnaces is popping up elsewhere. Kerr said township officials have fielded calls from officials in other Kalamazoo County townships and beyond.

"It's something the board is going to have to look at," said Pavilion Township Supervisor Patrick White, who noted there are a half-dozen outdoor furnaces in his township, just east of Portage.

"We'd rather be proactive than reactive," White said, adding that the township will likely survey residents before fall to gauge their feelings on the furnaces.

In Kalamazoo Township, a first draft of an ordinance to regulate the furnaces was recently presented to trustees.

"The board had some questions about that ordinance so it was sent back to our fire chief to check around and do some re-analyzing," Supervisor Gary Cramer said.

"I think we're all watching Texas Township," Comstock Township Supervisor Timothy Hudson said of whether his and other Kalamazoo County townships are likely to follow with their own regulations.

POLLUTION CONCERNS

The Texas Township ordinance requires owners of existing outdoor furnaces to get permits. It confines them to lots of more than 5 acres, sets minimum chimney heights, requires furnaces to be at least 300 feet from neighbors' homes and prohibits their use between mid-April and mid-October.

"I can see this getting out of hand," Texas Township resident David Smith said of the township's regulations and their potential to set a precedent for others in the area. Outdoor furnaces typically cost several thousand dollars to buy and install, but Smith estimates he saves $3,500 to $4,000 a year in heating costs, enough to help put his son through college. He said his unit is 60 feet away from his house and several hundred feet from his closest neighbor.

"I swear my smoke bothers nobody," said Smith, who is among nine township residents said to have outdoor furnaces. "Because I put dry, hard wood in there, it burns so clean. It smells like any campfire."

Texas Township resident Wayne Cavanaugh said he empathizes with those who have spent thousands of dollars to put in an outdoor furnace and might now have to pull it out because they can't meet ordinance specifications.

"But why should the environment and the neighbors suffer?" said Cavanaugh, who said his home is about 300 feet downwind from a neighbor's furnace. "This isn't just a public nuisance. It's a public-health issue."

Outdoor furnaces or boilers produce soot, carbon monoxide and other toxic air pollutants. They generate much more pollution than an indoor wood stove because they are built to burn wood at lower combustion temperatures, according to a fact sheet compiled by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

"Nuisance complaints are justified by valid health concerns," the fact sheet states. "Children (whose lungs are still developing) and people with health, heart or lung problems such as coronary-artery disease, asthma or emphysema are especially affected by wood smoke."

Michigan is among six states that have at least 10,000 wood furnaces or boilers, according to Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, which represents air-pollution-control agencies in several states.

Brian Brady, district supervisor for the Upper Peninsula district of the DEQ's Air Quality Division, estimates there are about 35,000 units in use in the state. About 15 years ago, townships in his district were the first in Michigan to deal with concerns about them, he said.

"It's all over the board," Brady said of local regulations. "Some townships have just banned them outright, and others are taking regulatory measures."

RULES COULD CHANGE

Since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has provided no direction to states, Michigan has been working with the American Society of Testing and Manufacturing on methods to test how much soot, carbon monoxide and other pollutants are coming out of the units, as well as to measure their heating efficiency, Brady said.
For the foreseeable future, "it's up to the townships" whether to set regulations or enact bans, he said.

Texas Township board members said their ordinance could change in the future, depending on improvements made to the outdoor furnaces or passage of county, state or federal regulations that might supersede local rules. Kerr, the township clerk, moved to adopt the current ordinance "with the understanding that as new things are presented, we will consider them."

Still, that was little relief to Texas Township residents such as Mickey Hall, who owns an outdoor furnace and said the new regulations are so restrictive most owners won't be able to comply.

"I'm certainly looking at other alternative sources now," he said of heating his home.
But Scott Emmons, owner of Scotland Heating and Air Conditioning in Allegan, doesn't see interest in outdoor furnaces or boilers waning anytime soon.

"Energy is going to go through the roof," he said of heating costs. "You're seeing hard-working, middle-class, rural people" looking for ways to save money.

The Associated Press and Gazette correspondent Fran Wilcox contributed to this report.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

May 30, 2008

Wood boilers discussed

Council to further review the matter

Published: Friday, May 30, 2008 10:29 AM CDT

Melissa Cox

NASHWAUK — The Nashwauk City Council has postponed further consideration of an ordinance limiting the use of  “accessory boilers” so that it can review wording and further define what the measure would encompass.

During an 18-minute discussion of wood boilers at a council meeting Tuesday, Mayor William Hendricks said a draft ordinance was vaguely worded. He said he interpreted it to mean no outdoor wood boilers would be allowed,
Hendricks said he would rather see a recommendation for wood boilers to be brought to a certain standard so residents could still use them, instead of being required to remove what could be their only heat source within a certain number of days. He said that with the cost of fuel, some families may have no other choice than to modify their systems to use wood.

Hendricks recommended requiring a minimum stack height on the boilers, and that spurred discussion on whether it would reduce problems with smoke. Fire Chief John Calaguire said smoke acts differently outside than inside a building. Even with a higher stack, he said, smoke could still blow toward a neighbor’s house, depending on the weather.

Council members discussed differences in the amount and type of smoke produced by outdoor versus indoor boilers. Mike Kennedy said wind-borne smoke from an almost 30-foot tall chimney on his house could still blow toward his neighbors.

Greg Heyblom said he understood the focus to be on outdoor boilers because they emit more smoke and have a larger firebox than a wood stove in a basement or a garage.

There was also brief discussion on possible interpretations of the ordinance.

Hendricks said the proposed wording had  too many “ifs” and he would like it clarified. Heyblom said he would like it to distinguish more clearly between an outside accessory boiler and a standard wood stove or furnace that would be located in a garage or house.

Heyblom said the concern is on large outdoor wood boilers and that he isn’t in favor of prohibiting indoor wood stoves or fireplaces.

Councilor Mary Fragnito said she would like to know how many residents would be affected by the ordinance, which was forwarded to the council by the zoning commission. A commission member, Norma Brown, said she and her fellow members weren’t aware of any but they wanted to address the topic after seeing the problems that Keewatin had with outdoor wood boilers.

Hendricks suggested tabling the matter to review what the Keewatin council did and to further review wording of the ordinance. The council voted to table.

Melissa Cox can be reached at melissa.cox@mx3.com. To read this story and comment on it online go to www.hibbingmn.com.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

May 28, 2008

City considers boiler policy

Published Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Staff with the City of Fergus Falls are considering adopting an ordinance for the use of outdoor wood boilers.

Wood stoves have become increasingly popular due to rising fuel costs, says Daryl Johnson, building inspector and zoning administrator. For this reason, an ordinance addressing the regulation and safety of these stoves is appropriate.

On Tuesday Johnson presented members of the city’s Planning Commission with a copy of the boiler ordinance for the City of Oronoco in southeastern Minnesota. Members will return with comments on the ordinance when the group meets June 9. A Fergus Falls policy may eventually make its way to the city council for approval.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

May 27, 2008

Complaints heat up in village on outdoor wood-burning furnaces
May 27, 2008

JOHN KREROWICZ

PLEASANT PRAIRIE - Warmer weather apparently has led to complaints about smoke from outdoor wood-burning furnaces used to heat homes and water.

Village officials have been receiving calls about the structures - there are at least two of them in the village - since spring temperatures have encouraged some residents to open their windows.

Residents with the furnaces, however, have continued to use them, and the smoke enters those windows, said village Fire Chief Paul Guilbert.

"That could be construed as a nuisance," he said.

In response, the Village Board last Monday approved a 90-day moratorium on installing the furnaces, which have been described as small utility sheds with a smokestack, and related activity to give staff time to research a way to regulate them.

The furnaces burn wood to heat water in pipes. The water is returned to the home to heat it. The wood fire is regulated to provide a lower amount of heat, but that amount is too cool to burn off soot and particulate matter and produces smoke in some models.

Some residents might use the structure to heat water year-round, so the fire is constantly smoldering and creating smoke, Guilbert said.

Village Administrator Michael Pollocoff said there is no village ordinance specifically addressing the devices. No tickets have been issued in the matter.

Nick Torcivia, Kenosha supervisor of building inspection, said he believed there was one such furnace in the city. He said as long as they are installed according to state building, energy and heating codes, they are allowed.

"They spew a lot of smoke," he said, "but we've never received any complaints."

Twin Lakes Administrator David Cox said there isn't a specific ordinance in that village regarding the structures. He said there's not been an issue in Twin Lakes about them, as far as he knew.

The Wisconsin Department of Health & Family Services Web site said there are no state or federal laws governing the structures. The department suggested local communities adopt ordinances as the best way to regulate the structures. It said the state Department of Natural Resources Web site includes a proposed outdoor-burning ordinance that refers to the structures.

Fire chiefs in other communities have said they've also had problems with the structures, Guilbert said. Some communities imposed minimum distances between the devices and homes or an ordinance outlining where they could be set up.

Pleasant Prairie wants to establish regulations for the devices before more residents purchase them, Pollocoff said.

"In changing energy markets, all sorts of things happen," he said. "That's why ordinances in the village or the city can't anticipate someone constructing a boiler in their backyard and fueling them with wood.

"The goal is to have everyone learn what is going on and be fair to the people who want to use them and do it in a clean manner."

Guilbert said he, the village building inspector and the community development director would continue to research the structures to determine what they were intended for and where they were intended to be used.

He said the devices appear not to be designed for residential neighborhoods.

"It might be a poor fit in some areas of our community," he said. "When we have a cool night when I can open windows and I find out somebody hasn't extinguished an outdoor fire so that it prevents me from opening my windows, that's pretty unsettling.

"Someone who wants to sleep with the windows open, can't."

Full Article: CLICK HERE

May 22, 2008 (Opinion)

Wood smoke robs you of your home

Like many people, I grew up enjoying campfires, not thinking about smoke.

That changed Jan. 2, 2006, when our neighbor in Newaygo, Michigan, installed an outdoor wood boiler downhill and 90 feet from our house.

We didn't know what the unit was, but the first day of operation, we experienced sore throats and headaches from smoke that drifted constantly, often in sheets, across our yard.

We could smell it in our house and couldn't get away from it. Being outside for minutes resulted in a smoke smell in our hair and on our clothes.

Research showed us the negative health impact we experienced from smoke is well documented and dangerous.

Our neighbor raised his stack, but he refused to talk when we showed smoke still going down into our yard.

For a year, we worked with the city government, attended meetings, educated, received neighborhood support to ban these units.

Now an ordinance protects people from OWB's. Our healthy air will be back! We thought.

City officials assured us the ordinance applied to all, but in September, they said our neighbor's unit was "grandfathered." No rules for him.

We offered to pay our neighbor's heat bill, buy a different furnace. Anything to enjoy our yard again, not to feel sick while home.

No reply.

Our four little Michigan grandchildren can't visit us there October-April. The smokestack is 14 feet from where we used to sled in the backyard.

Can't rake leaves, can't shovel snow. In smoke, your heart pounds too hard. You feel dizzy. No one seems to care.

We're selling this future retirement house to avoid smoke.

Now we live in Illinois and visit Michigan in the summer.

People need to understand the harm of what breathing wood smoke does to them, to children and to neighbors.

Jeanne Leaver

Lynn Center, Ill.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

May 21, 2008

City OKs new burn laws

Grilling acceptable, permits required for bonfires

Hillsdale Daily News
Posted May 21, 2008 @ 03:08 PM
 
Hillsdale, Mich. —Burn barrels will soon be illegal in the city of Hillsdale now that an amended ordinance has been approved.

The City Council voted unanimously to approve the amendments governing what people can and can’t do regarding burning in their yards.

The issue arose after concerns about people burning garbage and other refuse in their backyards. The Public Safety Department received 27 complaints last year.

The Planning Commission held a public hearing May 14 and had the proposed ordinance posted on the city’s Web site for six weeks and received not a single comment.

Under the language of the new ordinance, outdoor wood furnaces, open burning and outdoor burn barrels would be banned effective July 1. Allowed uses include patio fireplaces and grills — including charcoal, wood, propane or natural gas.

Bonfires or recreational fires would be allowed with a permit obtained through the Fire Department. City Manager Michael Mitchell explained the process does not involve a fee, but the person responsible for the property must see a fire station employee and tell them the date the fire is planned. The fire station worker must fill out the correct paperwork. Approval is at the sole discretion of the fire station worker and is dependent on conditions.

“If there is a high fire danger, the permit won’t be approved,” Mitchell said.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

May 20, 2008

Township adopts boiler restrictions

Tuesday, May 20, 2008
By DOUGLAS B. BRILL
The Express-Times

PLAINFIELD TWP. | The township will regulate when and where outdoor wood-fired boilers can be used with fines up to $1,000 for violators.

The boilers, home heating alternatives that have led to complaints of smoke, cannot be used during June, July and August, according to an ordinance adopted Wednesday. The ordinance also requires owners to get a permit before they install a boiler.

The boilers, which are small sheds that heat water and pipe it to a home, drew complaints in neighboring Washington Township, where neighbors said smoke from the boilers posed a health hazard.

Plainfield Township has not heard such complaints but wanted to pre-empt them, said Charles Knecht, the Plainfield zoning officer.

"We decided to do something before it gets crazy and we have complaints with no one to deal with it," he said.

The boilers have become more popular as oil becomes more expensive. But they are not regulated at the state or federal level.

Washington Township regulated the boilers last May. But 11 existing boilers became exempt because of a typo and a threatened lawsuit.

Plainfield's ordinance says the boilers must be on at least 3 acres. Boilers on 20 acres or more are exempt from the summer restriction.

The new regulations take effect June 13. Knecht said he knows of only one boiler in the township.

Reporter Douglas B. Brill can be reached at 610-759-0508 or by e-mail at dbrill@express-times.com.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

May 19, 2008

Mayfield hears boiler complaints

By KAYLEIGH KARUTIS, The Leader-Herald

MAYFIELD — Town Board members heard more complaints about outdoor wood boilers at a Town Board meeting Thursday, but officials could not agree on what restrictions, if any, they should place on the boilers.

Aaron Howland approached the board with pictures of his property clouded in smoke from a neighbor’s wood boiler. He said his property is inundated with acrid smoke from his neighbor’s wood boiler, and it is much worse during the warm spring and summer months.

“During the summer, the materials just sit in there and smolder for hours on end,” he told Town Board members.

Howland said he is unable to open his windows because of the smoke, which he said gathers and stagnates because of thick pines surrounding his property.

Elizabeth Howland, Aaron Howland’s mother, agreed.

“I have big windows and I would love to open them to get a cross-breeze, but I can’t,” she said. “There’s no way I can leave the house for any period of time and leave my windows open.”

She said she lives on a cul de sac surrounded by pine trees, which aggravates the situation.

“We’re more like a city block,” she said. “Houses are close to one another.”

Aaron Howland said he owns a wood boiler, but he considers his neighbors and shuts it off in the summer.

Pete and Mickey Nelli, who are Elizabeth Howland’s neighbors, agreed.

“All we’re asking for is a little consideration,” Pete Nelli said.

Aaron Howland suggested the town legislate when people can use their wood boilers. He recommended the town place a ban on using them during the summer.

Supervisor Alan McLain said legislating wood-boiler use is difficult for towns and villages.

“I’m worried about energy prices and telling someone they can’t heat their water in the summer,” he said.

McLain said many people use wood boilers in an effort to save money on their energy bills.

Aaron Howland asked board member Jack Putnam, who said he sells wood boilers, how much a person using a wood boiler would save in a month during the summer.

Putnam estimated a savings of about $30 to $40 per month, and said that would be on the “high end.”

At an April board meeting, members discussed possibly legislating a requirement for smokestack height.

They also considered creating a law that would require wood- boiler owners to place their boilers a certain distance from their neighbors’ property.

The Howlands, Nellis and two other people present at the meeting said such laws would be inadequate.

They said the smoke from wood boilers can travel and permeate a large area, regardless of stack height or distance from property lines.

McLain agreed with the residents, saying he has received many complaints about wood boilers. He said there needs to be some kind of legislation.

“It’ll probably take a while, but we’re confident we’re going to come up with something,” he said.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

May 16, 2008 (opinion)

The real reality: Dirty air unacceptable

Opinion Letter
Harvey Halvorsen, New Richmond, WI
Published Friday, May 16, 2008

To the Editor:

Your May 8 “Cough, wheeze” editorial was an excellent wake-up call about declining air quality in St. Croix County.

I, too, have witnessed the decline of our air quality. Smoke plumes and smoke-filled river valleys from wood burning
are becoming more common.

I’ve traced wood smoke to a major new source of unregulated outdoor air pollution: the Outdoor Wood Boiler (OWB).

The OWB, smoking 24/7, creates public health hazards from excessive wood smoke when they are improperly placed
and operated. Wood smoke is dangerous to breathe as it contains fine particulate matter, ozone, carbon monoxide,
nitrous oxides and sulfur dioxide (EPA).

Smoke from an OWB is very obnoxious and can infiltrate closed homes. The smoke also causes nausea, shortness
of breath, headaches, coughing, respiratory illnesses and more.

The Wisconsin Division of Public Health can provide more info (http://dhfs.wi.gov/eh click on air issues then info for
professionals).

The St. Croix County Public Health Department in New Richmond should be contacted (715-246-8370) if you have a
health hazard or nuisance complaint in regards to an OWB.

Our county Public Health Department has the authority to address health hazards created from smoking OWB’s.
Hazards and complaints arise where OWB’s are located and operated in small villages, subdivisions and small towns.
Burning wood in OWB’s in residential areas with close neighbors is not a good idea.

Local ordinances that restrict or ban the use of OWB’s is the real reality. This can and should be a vital step for
choosing a cleaner air shed for St. Croix County.

The State Department of Public Health identifies several actions a local government can do to alleviate the health
hazards and complaints. The Wisconsin DNR has guidance on establishing control over the installation and use
of OWB’s. This guide is for Wisconsin counties, cities, villages and towns available at:
http://dnr.wi.gov/org/caer/ce/ob/modelOrdinance.htm.

Our air will get an “A” if we do our share to improve the next breath of fresh air we take. We can choose to improve
our country’s current reality.

CLEAN AIR = Our children, our lungs, and our environment deserve it!

Harvey Halvorsen

Full Article: CLICK HERE

May 13, 2008

Texas Township prohibits new outdoor furnaces

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

BY FRAN WILCOX

Special to the Gazette

TEXAS TOWNSHIP -- New outdoor wood boilers will be banned in Texas Township under an ordinance adopted Monday.

The ordinance, approved unanimously by the township board of trustees, also imposes regulations on the nine existing outdoor furnaces.

The ordinance is expected to take effect in mid-June, or 30 days after the ordinance is published, which is expected to occur by the end of the week.

Board members said the ordinance could be changed in the future, depending upon improvements made to the outdoor furnaces or county, state or federal legislation that could overrule the local law.

``We've tried to do the best we can and truly listen to everyone,'' township Supervisor Ron Commissaris said. ``I appreciate everyone's input. It hasn't been easy.''

Commissaris said that state and federal agencies have given them no guidelines to deal with the issue.

``We sit here really kind of naked trying to come up with the best ordinance,'' Commissaris said.

Township Clerk Linda Kerr moved to adopt the current ordinance ``with the understanding that as new things are presented, we will consider them.''

Once the ordinance goes into effect, owners of existing outdoor furnaces have 60 days to apply for permits and one year to bring the boilers into compliance with the new regulations.

Among the requirements are that a furnace be at least 300 feet from a neighboring house, sit on a parcel of at least 5 acres in size, and not be used from April 15 through Oct. 15. In addition, the furnace must have a chimney that reaches at least 15 feet above the grade plane and be at least 2 feet taller than the roof peak of any property owner's dwelling within 500 feet.

The ordinance allows the owner of an outdoor wood boiler to apply for a variance from the requirements regarding minimum parcel size and setback from existing dwellings.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

May 13, 2008

Saranac Lake board adopts six-month outdoor wood boiler moratorium

By EMILY HUNKLER, Enterprise Staff Writer

SARANAC LAKE — The village board adopted a six-month moratorium on outdoor wood boilers on Monday night.

“Perhaps we should take the less restrictive avenue and see what has been done out there in terms of regulation,” Mayor Thomas Michael said regarding whether it was in the agenda to ban or regulate the boilers.

The moratorium puts a stop on granting any future permit for an outdoor wood boiler starting Monday evening and lasting 180 days, during which time the board will discuss plans to regulate or ban the use of them.

Trustee John McEneany was concerned with making sure the language of any future law or regulation is precise and does not leave room for misinterpretation.

“I don’t want to get into, ‘His smoke is different from my smoke because his smoke is outside and my smoke is inside’,” McEneany said.

The board assured him any future laws would be directed specifically towards the use of outdoor wood boilers.

Outdoor wood boilers came under fire recently when a Saranac Lake resident petitioned the board to do something to regulate their use for the health and safety of neighbors living nearby.

According to studies done by the New York Attorney General’s Office, outdoor wood boiler smoke contains fine particulate matter which, for those exposed to it on a regular basis, can lead to chronic lung and respiratory conditions.

“We need to be sure that, as a board, we are going in the right direction of regulating instead of banning,” Trustee Jeff Branch said.

Some have turned to outdoor wood boilers as a method of heating their homes due to the rising costs of oil. Outdoor wood boilers are fueled by wood, which for some homeowners is an appealing source of energy as it is less expensive than oil and renewable.

The board members said they hope to be diligent in deciding what action to take and hope to be finished well before the six-month moratorium is expired.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

May 12, 2008

Fire destroys workshop, tools at Farmington dairy farm

BY MORNING SENTINEL STAFF

FARMINGTON -- A local dairy farmer on Sunday said he believes a spark from his outdoor wood-fired furnace started a fire that destroyed his entire workshop and thousands of dollars worth of tools over the weekend.

Konrad Bailey, who owns and operates his family's Bailey Hill Farm on Bailey Hill Road along with his mother, Shirley, and wife, Michelle, said he lost all his shop tools, chain saws, spare parts, a mig welding system, a $1,400 transit, replacement equipment and a storage area filled with spare parts . It is estimated the value of the 25-by-30-foot structure alone was $25,000.

"I lost everything I need in there. This will certainly set us back. We are checking on our insurance, but I don't think anything was covered," Bailey said.

"I normally don't use the outside furnace after the winter to heat our water but with fuel oil prices so high, I have been," he said.

He said he had intended to install a screen in the smoke stack to contain the sparks and ash but had been so busy this spring to get to it.

The animals in the nearby barn were evacuated and the building, which was stocked with hay, was protected by firefighters who watered down the sides. The vinyl siding on one side, however, did melt from the intense heat, said Farmington Fire Deputy Chief Clyde Ross.

Heavy, black smoke that could be seen for miles was generated when the tires stored behind the shop and containers of motor oil ignited, Ross said.

"A passerby reported the fire at 1:44 p.m. and Konrad told me he had been out there just about a half-hour before that and nothing was wrong," Ross said. "With that strong wind moving from east to west, a spark started a grass fire that moved right toward the shop and the barn."

"We got there six minutes after getting the call and the building was already fully engulfed in flames," Ross said.

Assisting with manpower and tankers were departments from Industry, Temple, Strong, New Vineyard, Wilton and Chesterville. The blaze was out by about 3:30.

Bailey, whose family has farmed that land for generations, said his herd is down to 29 cows and last July, he eliminated his door-to-door milk delivery service and now only sells milk from the farm.

Betty Jespersen -- 778-6991

bjespersen@centralmaine.com

Full Article: CLICK HERE

May 11, 2008

Fire destroys dairy farmer's workshop and tools
 
By Morning Sentinel Staff Report

FARMINGTON — A spark from an outdoor wood-fired boiler and strong winds that ignited dry grass are blamed for a fire that destroyed a workshop and thousands of dollars worth of tools, parts and equipment at a Farmington dairy farm over the weekend.


Konrad Bailey, who owns and operates Bailey Hill Farms with his mother, Shirley, and wife, Michelle on Bailey Hill Road said Sunday he had intended to install a screen on the furnace's chimney but had not gotten around to it yet.


The furnace was installed close to the rear of the shed at his farm and the grass fire spread quickly to the building.


The heat generated by the Saturday afternoon fire got close enough to the barm to melt the vinyl siding on one side but firefighters and tankers from seven towns were able to stop the flames from spreading, said Farmignton Fire Department Deputy Chief Clyde Ross on Sunday.

Ross said conditions are dry and fire danger is high, and anyone using an outdoor boiler should be sure a screen is installed in the smoke stack. 

Full Article: CLICK HERE

May 1, 2008

State considers outdoor wood boiler regulations

By MIKE LYNCH, Enterprise Outdoor Writer

SARANAC LAKE — While municipalities across the state grapple with whether or not to impose regulations for outdoor wood boilers, state officials have already begun to draft their own rules.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation has started working on regulations that could be put in place within the next year, and the state Senate and Assembly both have bills dealing with the subject at the committee level. An OWB, as the boilers are commonly called, is a freestanding structure that contains a firebox surrounded by a water reservoir. Water is heated, then circulated through the home. They are being touted as an alternative means of providing heat for buildings during a time when the price of oil is climbing. The purchase price of them is in the $5,000 to $10,000 range.

DEC spokeswoman Lori O’Connell said regulating OWBs is part of a larger plan, noting that the DEC is also working on stricter rules for outdoor burns.

“It’s an effort to improve air quality,” O’Connell said.

O’Connell would not comment on specifics about the regulations because they are in draft form and not being released to the public.

The regulations would control what is burned and when that material could be burned. Essentially all materials except “clean wood” and starter materials such as newspapers couldn’t be used in the OWBs, according to a copy of the 13-page draft regulations obtained by the Enterprise.

Garbage, tires, manure, animal carcasses, plywood and yard waste are among the 20 items that would be banned from being burned in OWBs.

New and existing OWB usage wouldn’t be allowed between April 15 and Sept. 30 unless it met certain critieria, including emission standards, allowing it to be certified.

New OWBs would also have to be located at least 100 feet from property lines. New OWBs would be required to have a stack, or chimney-like structure, no less than 18 feet from ground level.

This is not the first time the state has looked at OWBs. In October 2005, the state Attorney General’s Office issued a report, “Smoke Gets in Your Lungs: Outdoor Wood Boilers in New York State.”

“We found that while OWBs are advertised as a clean and economical way to heat one’s house and water, OWBs may be among the dirtiest and least economical modes of heating, especially when improperly used,” states the report.

The report states that OWBs emit about four times as much fine particulate matter as conventional wood stoves.

In addition to the Attorney’s General’s Office, Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management has also been critical of OWBs. NESCAUM is a nonprofit association of air-quality agencies in the Northeast that provides research and support to air quality and climate programs. Its board of directors consists of the air directors of eight northeastern states, including a representative from the DEC’s Division of Air Quality.

On Tuesday, NESCAUM sent a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency urging it “to update and develop regulations relating to a variety of wood combustion devices.” Indoor and outdoor residential wood heating devices were both addressed in the letter.

“One significant area of concern is outdoor wood-fired boilers,” states the NESCAUM letter. “These units represent a new and growing public health concern in both the East and West. They can be highly-polluting and, when improperly used, subject neighbors, neighborhood, and entire communities to serious impacts from particulate matter and products of incomplete combustion.”

While the DEC is looking at regulations, state lawmakers may also be asked to decided on legislation involving OWBs in the near future.

The bills would ban the use of OWBs between May 1 and Sept. 30. There would be setback rules restricting them within 200 feet of the nearest resident not served by OWBs.

Similar bills introduced in the spring of 2006 were not passed.

Sen. Betty Little’s spokesman, Dan Mac Entee, said the Queensbury Republican would have to study the issue further before saying whether she’d support the bill.

“Certainly, she is aware of the health concerns and complaints that people have had,” Mac Entee said. “But she’s also concerned for people who have come to rely on them for a main source of heating.”

Republican Assemblywoman Janet Duprey, of Peru, said that she, too, is aware of the arguments on both sides. Duprey said there are valid concerns for people living in close proximity in hamlets and villages. But for some people it is a main source of heat, and she wouldn’t want to take that away.

“As much as possible, it should be controlled at the local level,” Duprey said.

That is already being done throughout New York state. As of last July, 35 municipalities had banned outdoor wood boilers statewide while 27 had imposed regulations, according to statistics provided by the DEC at the state Adirondack Park Agency’s Local Government Day earlier this spring.

That trend has recently spread to the Tri-Lakes. On Monday, the Saranac Lake Village Board voted to draft a six-month moratorium on OWBs. The board is scheduled to vote on whether to adopt OWB regulations later this month.

The timetable for state level officials to consider OWB rules is less definite, though impending.

“This is a debate that we’re sure is going to heat up in the months ahead,” Mac Entee said.

Contact Mike Lynch at 891-2600 ext. 28 or mlynch@adirondackdailyenterprise.com

Full Article: CLICK HERE

April 30, 2008

Smoked Out?

Saranac Lake village board considers six-month moratorium on all outdoor wood boilers

By EMILY HUNKLER, Enterprise Staff Writer

SARANAC LAKE — On Monday, village board members unanimously agreed to draft a six-month moratorium on outdoor wood boilers after a village resident raised questions about possible health risks from the boilers’ smoke.

Last week, Village Manager Martin Murphy called for a law to be drafted banning outdoor wood boilers. He had recently received a complaint from Ben Kline, of McClelland Street.

“For the past seven months, we’ve had to endure a lingering haze of smoke that results from burning green wood and possibly household garbage,” Kline said, regarding his neighbor’s use of an outdoor wood boiler.

Village Trustee Jeff Branch was against banning the boilers outright. “What’s next? Indoor wood stoves?” Branch said.

“I think we need to explore every avenue, not just banning, but regulations,” said Branch.

Robert Trudell, owner of the outdoor wood boiler on McClelland Street, said the cost of fuel is definitely the reason he switched to this method of heating.

“It has been operating since November, and I have definitely noticed a difference in my heating bills,” Trudell said.

Outdoor wood boilers are structures outside the home designed to accommodate large loads of wood that can burn for many hours without tending. Water in a reservoir surrounding the firebox is heated and pumped through underground pipes to the home’s heating system. A thermostat inside the home controls the burn rate by varying the amount of air that is supplied to the firebox. When the desired temperature is reached, the firebox is deprived of oxygen, leaving the wood smoldering. This results in the emission of thick smoke through the smoke stack.

According to an October 2005 report by the state Attorney General’s Office, the smoke emitted from outdoor wood boilers contains a great deal of fine particulate matter — roughly four times as much as a standard indoor wood heater — that can bypass the body’s natural filtering system and lodge deep inside the lung tissue. According to the report, chronic exposure to the smoke can possibly lead to asthma, heart and lung disease, and cancer.

“My concern is that we can’t open our windows or let our kids play outside,” Kline said. “I have a 7-year-old and a 13-month-old with developing lungs.”

In addition to the appeal of being independent of oil for heat, outdoor wood boilers are advertised by their manufacturers to be more efficient than oil or gas furnaces. However, according to the attorney general’s report, outdoor wood boilers have an average heating efficiency rating of 43 percent, whereas oil and gas furnaces both average 78 percent. The report measures heating efficiency by actual heat output relative to the potential heat output of the fuel.

Village Trustee Susan Waters noted that the report also states one outdoor wood boiler produces as much particulate matter as 1,000 oil furnaces or 1,800 gas furnaces.

Trudell noted that his model is one of the most efficient models of outdoor wood boilers. It cost around $7,300 including installation, much of which, Trudell said, he did himself.

Some of the regulation ideas addressed at the meeting included requiring higher smoke stacks so the smoke may more easily disperse, or requiring them to be set back a certain distance from any surrounding houses.

Trudell said he plans to extend his smoke stack by four feet regardless of board action. The stack currently stands at 20 feet; he said extending it to 24 feet will help to get the smoke out.

Branch said he feels the pain of rising heating costs and the desire to find more efficient ways to heat a home.

“Now, more than ever, we need to explore regulations before banning,” Branch said.

Kline said he was not opposed to regulations instead of banning.

“Let’s give him a shot and let him try it,” Kline said. “If he can get the smoke out, then it will work.”

Murphy said he felt that regulations were absolutely necessary.

“Without regulations we have no hammer,” Murphy said.

The moratorium will be addressed and could be adopted at the next village board meeting on May 12.

If adopted, permits will not be given to install outdoor wood boilers until the board has come to a consensus on regulating or banning their use in the village.

“They better do a little research if they think they are going to get rid of it,” Trudell said. “This is all perfectly legal.”

According to Murphy, there is currently one permit request pending.

Kline said he was satisfied with the board’s actions.

“Would I love to have seen it turned off? Certainly. But I know they can’t do that,” Kline said. “I’m putting it out there so they don’t end up in everybody’s backyard.”

Contact Emily Hunkler at 891-2600 ext. 24 or ehunkler@adirondackdailyenterprise.com

Full Article: CLICK HERE

April 30, 2008 (Canada)(Opinion)

Smoke hasn’t cleared over outdoor wood-fired boiler furnace debate
Apr 30, 2008

To the Editor:

About a year ago I approached the Almaguin News team to write an article on the 'smoke problem' my family and I are having to tolerate from the neighbour’s outdoor wood-fired boiler furnace.

I stated that the smoke from this furnace has forced my family and I to lose the outdoor enjoyment of our property, as well as (our) not being able to have our windows open anymore.

Once again with the temperatures having people opening their windows for fresh air we have to keep ours sealed to keep out the thick choking smoke.

Our neighbour has approached myself and my father and has told us that they get the smoke 10 times worse than we do. That is truly unfortunate, because they have three very young children (who are) subjected to air quality that has my family and I struggling to breathe in our home at times.

The Village of South River enacted a bylaw which the mayor assured (us) would take care of our problem for us. The bylaw states that anyone who causes their neighbour harm from the smoke from this type of furnace can be charged under the Environmental Protecton Act.

The Ministry of the Environment (MoE) has washed their hands of the matter after their own North Bay officer who investigated our case had told me I should keep any and all photos I had to add with those he had taken in support of our claim. We've even had it suggested to us that we should move to get away from the smoke. Not the Minister of Health, our MPP, the MoE or the village will stand behind their bylaws and Protection Acts to help us. Instead we're advised to lawyer up.

My reason for writing to your paper today is that we've been made aware of a court ruling by Justice F. Graham on March 7, 2008. The article is published on globeandmail.com under "Stove stokes smouldering rift between neighbouring families."

In the judgement the plantiffs proved that the smoke from this type of unit was harmful to their health and that they had lost the enjoyment of the use of their property. The court granted an interlocutory injunction which has stopped the neighbour from using their outdoor wood-fired boiler furnace.

The plaintiffs submitted reports recently authored by two agencies providing evidence that the emissions from just one outdoor wood-fired furnace are equivalent to emssions from four non-certified wood-stoves or 10 to 22 EPA-certified wood-stoves or 205 oil furnaces or 3,000 to 8,000 natural gas furnaces, and that one outdoor wood-fired furnace can emit as much fine particulate matter as four heavy duty diesel trucks. The report indicates that the gases emitted from outdoor wood-fired boiler furnaces are associated with serious health effects. This should then classify these units to fall under the new government’s law dealing with products that are dangerous to consumers.

So I would hope that the minister responsible for Health will have this product (stopped) from being sold and from being used anywhere in Canada.

My family and I are not going to sit indoors another summer with our windows sealed. After 60 years of living at this same address one should be able to sit outside, dry our clothes on the laundry line, plant our garden, sit indoors, sleep and even use our clothes dryer without having to tolerate the thick choking smoke from any neighbours’ outdoor wood-fired boiler furnace.

I think we've paid enough taxes to enjoy our home.

Imagine sitting with the doors and windows closed tight in the middle of July when the temperature reaches 95 degrees in the shade just so that the neighbour can heat their water tank.

Why should my mother, who relies on oxygen 24/7, have to make frequent trips to the doctor because she/we can't breathe the air inside or outside our house?

For anyone who is going through the same problem as we are, please read the Globe’s article I've mentioned. Let's make our government work for us. Their laws are being violated and our rights are being made fun of by them.
 
Lynn Loney
South River

Full Article: CLICK HERE

April 29, 2008

Texas Township board nears decision on outdoor furnaces

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

BY FRAN WILCOX

Special to the Gazette

TEXAS TOWNSHIP -- New outdoor wood furnaces or boilers would be banned and existing units regulated as soon as June under an ordinance the Texas Township Board of Trustees accepted for first reading Monday.

If the board gives final approval May 12, the measure will take effect 30 days later.

Debate over regulation of outdoor wood furnaces has centered on property rights and whether the furnaces compromise the health and welfare of township residents. Township officials say there are nine outdoor wood boilers in the township.

The latest incarnation of the ordinance, in development for months, mandates that existing outdoor furnaces or boilers be on parcels of no less than 5 acres and at least 300 feet from any dwelling of another property owner and 50 feet from property lines. Chimneys must be at least 15 feet higher than grade and 2 feet taller than the highest roof peak of any neighboring dwelling within 500 feet.

Owners of existing units would have to apply for outdoor-furnace permits and demonstrate that they meet requirements. Wood furnaces could not be used between April 15 and Oct. 15.

A new provision in the ordinance allows for a variance on acreage and setback requirements. Owners of furnaces on parcels smaller than 5 acres or fewer than 300 feet from a neighbor's home may petition the board to be exempted from those requirements but must show the furnace would not adversely affect neighbors. The board would have the option of denying variances, approving them or approving them conditionally.

The ordinance has also been modified to clarify that it does not apply to indoor wood stoves contained in accessory buildings.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

April 26, 2008

Logan on outdoor furnaces: No smoking

By Kay Stephens, kstephens@altoonamirror.com

Logan Township has a new set of rules governing outdoor furnaces, primarily aimed at keeping them from creating smoke and disturbing neighbors.

While some municipalities have enacted ordinances to prohibit outdoor furnaces, Logan’s supervisors Thursday approved an ordinance allowing them, with restrictions, after the property owner applies for a installation permit.

‘‘There are a lot of outdoor furnaces in rural areas [without] the smoke that we saw in those pictures,’’ Supervisor Jim Patterson said.

In February, some Grandview residents brought photographs to supervisors, showing the smoke that filled their neighborhood every time a neighbor fired his outdoor furnace. The residents said they disliked the smoke and considered it a health hazard.

Supervisors pledged to help and said they suspected the smoke was a result of the material being burned.

The new ordinance defines acceptable outdoor furnace fuel is defined as natural wood products (dried and without additives), coal, No. 2 heating oil and agricultural seeds in their natural state without additives.

Unacceptable fuel includes wood that is wet or painted, rubbish, food wrappers, plastic and synthetic materials, rubber tires, asphalt, roofing paper, shingles, newspapers, cardboard, leaves and paper with ink or dye.

Violators can be fined up to $1,000 daily.

Before adopting the ordinance, supervisors Chairman Frank Meloy asked to change a section requiring smokestacks be at least 20 feet tall or a minimum of 2 feet above the nearest roof line of the highest structure within 200 feet.

‘‘You’re going to have a free-standing chimney that’s going to be a fire hazard,’’ Meloy said. “There’s nothing to secure these chimneys to.’’

Supervisors suggested and solicitor Larry Clapper agreed to require smokestack height as reflected in the manufacturer’s specifications.

Other provisions limit installation to lots measuring at least 40,000 square feet. An area of 20 feet around the furnace is to be kept free of combustible material, including vegetation except for grass that can be up to 4 inches high.

Also, the furnace must be at least 20 feet from a neighbor’s property line and 100 feet from a neighbor’s structure. Before installation, the owner has to apply for a permit from the township and enclose a drawing showing location details.

Until Thursday, the township had no way to track how many residents have outdoor furnaces.

“I’m hearing from people that they’re going to get one,’’ Supervisor Joe Metzgar said.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

April 24, 2008

Manton ordinance approved to regulate outdoor wood furnace use

By MARI-JO NEDERHOED

MANTON - The Manton City Council has worked to create an outdoor wood furnace ordinance that will address the concerns of those opposed to and in favor of outdoor wood furnaces in ¨ Manton.

According to city clerk Teresa Loving, some residents living near homes that use outdoor wood furnaces and boilers as a source of heat have complained to Manton’s planning board about the smoky air in August of 2007. The city of Manton is characterized by small-lot sizes (12,000 to 15,000 square feet or less), meaning wood furnace emissions can easily travel to nearby properties.

"We had a public hearing and there was a lot of good response to make the wood furnaces more acceptable to the people of Manton," Loving said. "The ordinance was changed to not just prohibit, but also to regulate the use. This is different from what was presented initially. This could mean some existing residents may have to change the stacks or locations of their furnaces."

Ordinance No. 2007-07 will now "prohibit outdoor wood furnaces and boilers in the City of Manton and regulate existing outdoor wood furnaces and boilers so they do not become a nuisance and do not harm city residents."

Two studies were referenced showing the harmful effects of outdoor wood furnaces and boilers. The March 2007 study "Outdoor Wood Boiler & Air Quality Fact Sheet" by Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) states, "outdoor wood boilers can be a major problem because they emit a lot of air pollutants."

The MDEQ study also said outdoor wood furnaces and boilers generate "much more" particle pollution than indoor wood stoves.

The March 2006 "Assessment of Outdoor Wood-fired Boilers" prepared by Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, concluded that wood smoke emissions of particles and gases presented a health threat to persons living nearby outdoor wood-fired boilers.

For a full definition of the ordinance please read the April 26 edition of the Cadillac News.

 

news@cadillacnews.com | 775-NEWS (6397)

Full Article: CLICK HERE

April 21, 2008

Wood-heat complaints push state to regulate
 
Monday,  April 21, 2008 3:10 AM
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
 
It's not too conspicuous from the street: a silver stack poking up from behind a backyard fence.

But John W. Waddy Jr. said it's a scourge on his Near East Side neighborhood.

This past winter, the stack belched smoke from a wood-burning boiler that warmed neighbor John Clarke's home but also, according to Waddy, polluted homes, cars and offices.

"This thing has a life of its own," Waddy said. He filed complaints with the city and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency in January.

Columbus officials said they don't regulate outdoor furnaces or boilers. But enough people have complained about the growing number of outdoor wood boilers statewide that the EPA is writing rules to regulate them.

The estimated number of Ohio homes that use wood as the principal heating source rose 27 percent in three years, to 71,711 in 2006, according to the U.S. Census. The estimate for Franklin County varies widely, between 300 and 900 homes.

Clarke installed the $8,000 system last year behind his 140-year-old stately stone-and-brick Hamilton Park house. He said it helped reduce the cost to heat his 5,200-square-foot house from $2,500 a month with a gas furnace to $700 a month, including the delivery of 12 cords of wood over the winter.

The wood boiler, housed in a shed, heats water that is pumped through insulated underground pipes into the house to the existing forced-air furnace. The furnace's fan blows air over the pipes to send heat throughout the ductwork.

Clarke still uses his gas furnace, but he estimated he used the wood furnace 95 percent of the time since last fall.

He wondered how the government could restrict the smoke.

"How do you distinguish between this and chimneys?" said Clarke, a 37-year-old information-technology systems engineer.

Waddy, a lawyer who lives and works on Hamilton Park just east of I-71 and is also trying to sell 12 condominiums nearby in a refurbished building, said he's concerned the particulate-filled smoke is harming the community's health.

The proposed state rules are still under review. Officials probably will redraft them because of complaints they are too harsh, Ohio EPA spokeswoman Linda Oros said.

As written, the state would require new units to be at least 200 feet from property lines, essentially banning them from urban areas with small lots.

"Can you imagine one of these stoves in German Village?" Waddy said.

It also would require smokestacks to be no less than 5 feet higher than the peak of any roof within 150 feet. That's so smoke can dissipate before anyone breathes it, Oros said. Clarke's smokestack is about 15 feet tall, which is below the rooflines of the surrounding two-story homes.

The manufacturer's Web site recommends that in densely populated areas the stack height exceed the roofline of surrounding homes.

Ohio would limit emissions to 0.44 pounds of particles per million BTUs of heat, decreasing to 0.32 pounds in 2010. The U.S. EPA has set voluntary standards of 0.60 pounds, which manufacturers are working to meet.

It also would prohibit the use of a boiler from April 15 to Sept. 13 unless it met emission limits.

Copies of the proposed rules can be obtained by calling Carolina Prado at 614-644-2310. Written comments can be mailed to the Division of Air Pollution Control, Ohio EPA, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, Ohio 43216-1049.

EPA officials will review the comments, change the proposals if necessary, issue a draft proposal and take more comments, Oros said.

Other states and communities have prohibited or regulated the boilers.

Maryland has banned them. And 62 counties, towns or villages in New York have passed restrictions, The New York Times reported. Suffolk County on Long Island in 2006 restricted their use to colder months until 2010, when they will be banned except for natural disasters.

mferenchik@dispatch.com

Full Article: CLICK HERE

April 19, 2008

Peru postpones action on adult usage/wood boilers


By JEFF MEYERS
Staff Writer

PERU -- Peru town councilors have tabled proposed laws regulating adult-use establishments and outdoor wood boilers.

The Town Council held public hearings on both issues before this week's regular meeting, but Supervisor Donald Covel advised the two dozen people in attendance that the town would not be acting on the proposals at this time.

Covel said Clinton County Planner Rodney Brown and Town Attorney Donald Biggs had some concerns about wording in the laws and a suggestion that the proposals be reviewed by the county before the town acts on them.

The boiler issue drew much more attention during the two hearings, with most people voicing opposition to the proposal that would prohibit outdoor wood boilers in the hamlet and add other restrictions on boilers in rural areas.

"I had my (outdoor wood boiler) up and running before I had my certificate of occupancy for my home," said resident Paul Persons. "Now you're telling me I've got to do away with my wood boiler? That's $6,000 down the drain."

A major argument for people with outdoor boilers is the savings on home-heating costs.

"I have an outdoor wood boiler in the hamlet, and I can't get rid of it," said Babette Torres, who added that she will not be able to afford her home if she has to pay for more traditional fuel sources.

Some residents said regulations such as raising the height of chimneys may be beneficial but felt that each case is unique and should be dealt with individually, not by blanket rules.

Linda Lamountain, who operates a wood boiler at her home on Military Turnpike, read a detailed account of her concerns about the proposal, suggesting that the law was discriminatory and possibly the basis of a conspiracy against wood-boiler users.

"One size does not fit all," she said, requesting the council go "back to the drawing board" to develop a proposal that is fair to all town residents.

Her husband, Ron Lamountain, also voiced concerns about the proposal, noting that no members of the town's Comprehensive Planning Committee contacted the wood-boiler owners for advice as they developed the proposal.

"The board is being very unreasonable with some of their demands," he said, echoing the fact that wood-boiler users have purchased the technology for financial reasons as fuel prices continue to rise dramatically.

Council member Peter Glushko said the public was constantly invited to the Comprehensive Planning Committee meetings.

"We always had pretty good turnout at those meetings, and the public did add input," he said. "But (wood-boiler) owners never attended the meetings."

Resident Jim Kirby suggested the problem could be dealt with more easily if the town had a nuisance law to take care of individual problems as they arise, such as the way residents can submit complaints about barking dogs.

"If you get more than two complaints, then you can do something about it."

Don McBrayer voiced some concerns about the smoke that is created by outdoor wood boilers and noted that discussion among state and federal authorities that may place restrictions on wood boilers and force owners to shut down or adjust their boilers anyway.

Helen Kellas said she was concerned that people were burning garbage in their wood boilers and added that she has to close windows in her home during the summer because of the smell from a neighboring wood boiler.

Covel ended the hearing by asking Ron Lamountain to organize a committee of wood-boiler owners to sit with volunteers from the Comprehensive Planning Committee and work on a revision on the proposed law.

Comprehensive Planning Committee member Donald Evans was in attendance and said he would sit down with the owners to discuss revision ideas.

But then, during the public-comment period of the regular meeting, Jim Sorrell returned to the topic.

"I'm not a resident of the town, but I am looking at property in the town," he said, adding that he has lived next to a wood boiler for two years and the impact has been much more than a nuisance.

He asked the councilors to consider the health effects on people exposed to the smoke and referred them to an Environmental Protection Agency report on risks associated with the boilers.

E-mail Jeff Meyers at:

jmeyers@pressrepublican.com

Full Article: CLICK HERE

April 18, 2008

Outdoor Wood Boilers 

RHINELANDER - Heating a home or business for the winter in the Northwoods can get pretty expensive. That's why some people have turned to outdoor wood boilers.

According to officials with the D-N-R a few years ago there were about 20-thousand outdoor wood boilers in the state. Some people who own them say they cut down on heating costs. Others see them as a nuisance.

Stu Mauthe owns Ulterior Motives outside in Rhinelander. He says business was slow this winter. Mauthe says, "Our regular customers that would put you know two-three thousand snowmobile miles on a year stayed down south and I guess I can't hardly blame them."

Mauthe thinks it has something to do with high gas prices. To help save money he installed an outdoor wood boiler to heat his 85-hundred square foot business. He says, "I figure with gas, chain saw and wood approximately three thousand dollars."

Mauthe says when he was using natural gas to heat his business it cost him almost three times that amount. However, there are some set backs to using an outdoor wood boiler. Neal Baudhuin is the Norhtern Region Air Program Supervisor for the D-N-R and he says," As far as breathing the smoke...or whoever might be down wind of the outdoor wood boiler...I mean they're breathing in a lot more pollutants than they would versus some other type of heating systems."

In the past three years the Wisconsin Department of Health has received more than 200 complaints about outdoor wood boilers. Baudhuin says, "The biggest affect you see is localized it's the people you know that are directly down wind. "

Mauthe says if one of his neighbors ever has a problem with his boiler the solution is simple.
He says, " If my neighbors complaining come over and tell me. We'll do something to fix it. "

According to Baudhuin there are more than 20-thousand outdoor wood boilers in Wisconsin and with numbers like that it seems like this controversy is just heating up.


Baudhuin says right now in the state of Wisconsin there are no laws regulating the use of outdoor wood boilers.

Story By: Barclay Pollak

Full Article: CLICK HERE

April 17, 2008

Fire starts in outdoor furnace, damages garage
Thursday, April 17, 2008

REPOSITORY STAFF REPORT

PARIS TWP. A fire that started in an outdoor wood-burning furnace damaged a garage Wednesday afternoon at a home at 16405 Dori St. SE.

The unattached, wood-frame garage is at the home of George and Doris Locke. The couple was not home when the blaze started.

"He had a little machine shop in it," Chief Richard McClelland of the Minerva Fire Department said. "It did burn up his tractor. He had some minor damage to a couple other tractors. The roof collapsed on part of the building."

Also responding were fire departments from Washington Township and Robertsville.

Material inside the furnace chimney apparently overheated, causing the fire, according to McClellan.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

April 15, 2008

Shut the door on wood boilers (Opinion)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008 8:45 PM CDT

Increased prices for petroleum and gas are almost certain to give us another air pollution problem, another of those unintended consequences and one already afflicting some residents of northern Wisconsin.

That means it is time to think about the consequences now, and put laws in place now, before we face widespread consequences without a remedy.

The problem is outdoor wood boilers, also known as outdoor wood-fired hydronic heaters. That’s how they’re known among polite and professional people. Other people, those living downwind, have doubtless thought of other names.

For owners these heaters would have to be wonderful. Who could object to being warm all winter by burning wood at a fraction of the cost of buying natural gas, fuel oil, or propane. That also explains why these heaters are so popular in the Northeast and upper Midwest where winters are cold and trees are plentiful and cheap — not to mention a renewable resource.

For neighbors of these contraptions, life is less pleasant. They complain of thick, choking smoke, which is the result of the slower, cooler combustion. This is made worse by short exhaust stacks which belch smoke close to the ground instead of dispersing it at rooftop height as from a house chimney. Also, these heaters are not required to be efficient.

This is not the case with wood-burning stoves. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency mandates that every wood stove be a clean-burning device with minimal emissions, especially of fine particles. These small particles penetrate homes even when doors and windows are closed and irritate the lungs of people with asthma and other respiratory or cardiovascular problems. That’s aside from the smoke which contains a number of chemical compounds some of which have been linked to cancer.

A number of municipalities either already regulate outdoor heaters or are considering rules to do so. In the San Francisco Bay area officials are considering a rule to restrict the use of not only outdoor heaters but also fireplaces and wood stoves on days when air pollution is high. Only three states have passed regulations about outdoor wood boilers. Wisconsin should become the fourth.

Although it has rules for stoves, the EPA has implemented a voluntary program for pollution standards on outdoor wood-fired hydronic heaters. An agency fact sheet says this will put cleaner heaters on the market faster than the traditional rule-making process would, and it says that the manufacturers selling more than 80 percent of heaters have signed on.

That’s all fine, but Wisconsin still needs a law. No one has to buy one of the new clean stoves, and our corner of the state has chronically failed to meet EPA air quality limits. We don’t need to allow more stuff in the air through inaction when cleaner alternatives are available. Nor do we need a heating option which creates more health problems and costs and reduces everyone’s quality of life downwind. Communities can be unpleasant enough for the few weeks in fall when people burn leaves. Imagine a long, cold, smoky winter.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

April 15, 2008

Texas Township limits outdoor wood heaters

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

BY FRAN WILCOX

Special to the Gazette

TEXAS TOWNSHIP -- Residents of Texas Township who were considering installing an outdoor wood boiler may have to wait indefinitely.

After months of discussion on a proposed ordinance to regulate the outdoor furnaces, the Texas Township board opted for a moratorium on new boilers at its meeting Monday. The latest draft includes a moratorium on any new installations until a county, state or federal regulatory agency enacts regulations. The ordinance also includes restrictions on existing boilers.

Existing boilers must be removed within 12 months of the ordinance's effective date unless they:

v Are at least 300 feet from any dwelling owned by someone other than the owner of the boiler.

v Are at least 50 feet from the property line.

v Are on a parcel measuring at least 5 acres.

v Have a chimney that reaches at least 15 feet above the grade plane and at least 2 feet higher than the highest roof peak of any dwelling not owned by the furnace owner within 500 feet.

In addition, existing furnaces must not be used between April 15 and Oct. 15, and the owner must apply for and receive an outdoor-furnace use permit.

The board ironed out the new ordinance after more than an hour of public comment from a standing-room-only crowd. Many of those present referenced an anonymous brochure they received in the mail that gave environmental and health reasons for opposing boilers. Several owners of boilers who spoke took issue with many of the points in the brochure.

Board members said they were not equipped to evaluate the science cited by both sides of the debate. They thought the county or the state could do a better job with more resources.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

April 14, 2008

Outdoor stove debate simmers

Smoke from wood-fired boilers steams neighbors

WAUSAU (AP) - An explosion in the number of outdoor wood-fired boilers to heat homes is creating a new air quality problem - their smoke is choking neighbors.

Over the past three years, the Wisconsin Department of Health has received nearly 200 complaints related to thick smoke from the stoves that look like tiny sheds - or old-fashioned outhouses - with a short smokestack.

Some local governments are passing laws regulating the boilers, essentially banning them. Two years ago, Wisconsin's top environmental official urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to take action. Several states in the Midwest and Northeast have looked at the issue too after they started turning up in more urban areas.

"It was bad, just choking smoke," said Karl Wojtalewicz, describing the problem that his business, The Wellness Spa near Whiting, experienced. "Somebody called the cops a couple of times because you couldn't see the highway."

Why there can't be more regulations on the boilers - which some describe as little more than a steel box with water circulated around it and a smokestack - baffles him.

Boiler boom

Six states - Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Minnesota - have at least 10,000 wood boilers, said Paul Miller, deputy director of Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, which represents air pollution control agencies in eight states, including New York.

The group estimates that 500,000 outdoor wood boilers - emitting nearly 900,000 tons of fine particulate matter - could be installed nationwide by 2010, more than double the number now in use.

About 27,000 wood boilers have been installed throughout Wisconsin in the past decade because of skyrocketing fuel prices, experts say. Some burn barely 50 percent efficient, and some were installed too close to neighbors, critics say.

"They tend to smoke a lot," said Neil Baudhin, an air quality supervisor for the state Department of Natural Resources. "If you can smell it, your nose is detecting some kind of chemical."

Some people have complained that illegal materials, including trash and tires, get burned, Baudhin said.

Jerry and Jean Blenker installed a wood boiler at their rural Athens home about a decade ago, saving "thousands and thousands of dollars" in heating costs. The family cuts its own wood.

A neighbor who lives about a half-mile away complained, causing state regulators and police to check whether something other than wood was being burned, Jerry Blenker said.

"It is just smoke, and I am allowed to burn firewood," he said. "I am real happy with it."

Pollution issue

In an hour, an outdoor wood boiler can emit as many particles of pollution much smaller than the diameter of a hair as 1,800 natural gas furnaces, Miller said.

Courtney Welch, a policy analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures, said three states - Connecticut, Maine and Montana - have passed laws regulating wood boilers, including setting emission standards. New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island have pending legislation.

The American Lung Association of Wisconsin is exploring whether new laws are needed in Wisconsin, said Dona Wininsky, a spokeswoman.

"We have got calls from asthmatics saying they have smoke pouring into their homes 24/7. The problem is they are just so unregulated and they are appearing in a lot of these newer subdivisions where people are closer together," she said.

Two years ago, then-DNR Secretary Scott Hassett wrote the EPA urging a national strategy. But no mandatory rules are under consideration with the agency.

Leslie Wheeler, a spokeswoman for the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association, a Virginia-based group that represents some manufacturers, said complaints about smoke are a black eye for the industry, which has worked with the EPA on voluntary standards so the boilers, which typically cost $6,000, burn cleaner.

"If they want to stay in business, they better try and meet these standards," she said. "Eighteen months ago, there wasn't a furnace that met the voluntary standard. Now, there are at least two that do."

But the voluntary standard is too weak, according to Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management. The group recommends a two-phase standard that initially would lead to 25 percent fewer emissions than the EPA's voluntary standard allows and eventually 50 percent fewer, Deputy Director Miller said.

"These things smoke because they are incredibly inefficient," he said. 

Central Boiler of Greenbush, Minn., a leading manufacturer of outdoor wood boilers, promotes them as environmentally friendly because they burn wood, a renewable resource, Vice President Rodney Tollefson said. A homeowner can recover the investment within five years, he said.

The company advises buyers in densely populated areas to make sure the height of the smokestack exceeds the roof lines of homes, he said. "I have never seen a situation where they can't have a chimney high enough to resolve the situation."

Full Article: CLICK HERE

April 14, 2008

Boom in sales of outdoor wood boilers spark complaints

Associated Press - April 14, 2008 7:15 AM ET

WAUSAU, Wis. (AP) - As more people use outdoor wood-fired boilers to heat their homes, more states are considering legislation to regulate them.

Connecticut, Maine and Montana have passed laws that set emission standards for the stoves, which look like tiny sheds with a short smoke stack. New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island have legislation pending, and officials in Wisconsin are considering doing the same after getting hundreds of complaints about the smoke.

Officials say the boilers have become more popular because of skyrocketing fuel prices but that they are inefficient and often installed too close to neighbors.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

April 13, 2008

Boom in sales of outdoor wood boilers spark complaints

WAUSAU, Wis. --An explosion in the number of outdoor wood-fired boilers to heat homes is creating a new air quality problem -- their smoke is choking neighbors.

Over the past three years, the Wisconsin Department of Health has received nearly 200 complaints related to thick smoke from the stoves that look like tiny sheds -- or an old-fashioned outhouse -- with a short smoke stack.

Some local governments are passing laws regulating the boilers, essentially banning them. Two years ago, Wisconsin's top environmental official urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to take action. Several states in the Midwest and Northeast have looked at the issue, too, after they started turning up in more urban areas.

"It was bad, just choking smoke," said Karl Wojtalewicz, describing the problem that his business, The Wellness Spa near Whiting, experienced. "Somebody called the cops a couple of times because you couldn't see the highway."

He's baffled why there isn't more regulation of the boilers, which some describe as little more than a steel box with water circulated around it and a smoke stack.

Six states -- Wisconsin, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Minnesota -- have at least 10,000 wood boilers, said Paul Miller, deputy director of Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, which represents air pollution control agencies in eight states, including New York.

The group estimates that 500,000 outdoor wood boilers -- emitting nearly 900,000 tons of fine particulate matter -- could be installed nationwide by 2010, more than double the number now in use.

About 27,000 wood boilers have been installed throughout Wisconsin in the past decade because of skyrocketing fuel prices, experts say. Some burn barely 50 percent efficient and some were installed too close to neighbors, critics say.

"They tend to smoke a lot," said Neil Baudhin, an air quality supervisor for the state Department of Natural Resource. "If you can smell it, your nose is detecting some kind of chemical."

Some people have complained that illegal materials, including trash and tires, get burned, Baudhin said.

Jerry and Jean Blenker installed a wood boiler at their rural Athens home about a decade ago, saving "thousands and thousands of dollars" in heating costs. The family cuts its own wood.

A neighbor who lives about a half-mile away complained, causing state regulators and police to check whether something other than wood was being burned, Jerry Blenker said.

"It is just smoke and I am allowed to burn firewood," he said. "I am real happy with it."

In an hour, an outdoor wood boiler can emit as many tiny particles of pollution as 1,800 natural gas furnaces, Miller said.

Courtney Welch, a policy analyst for the National Conference of State Legislatures, said three states -- Connecticut, Maine and Montana -- have passed laws regulating wood boilers, including setting emission standards. New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island have pending legislation.

The American Lung Association of Wisconsin is exploring whether new laws are needed in Wisconsin, said Dona Wininsky, a spokeswoman.

"We have got calls from asthmatics saying they have smoke pouring into their homes 24/7. The problem is they are just so unregulated and they are appearing in a lot of these newer subdivisions where people are closer together," she said.

Two years ago, then-DNR Secretary Scott Hassett wrote the EPA urging a national strategy. But no mandatory rules are under consideration with the agency.

Leslie Wheeler, a spokeswoman for the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association, a Virginia-based group that represents some manufacturers, said complaints about smoke are a black eye for the industry, which has worked with the EPA on voluntary standards so the boilers, which typically cost $6,000, burn cleaner.

"If they want to stay in business, they better try and meet these standards," she said. "Eighteen months ago, there wasn't a furnace that met the voluntary standard. Now, there are at least two that do."

But the voluntary standard is too weak, according to Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management. The group recommends a two-phase standard that initially would lead to 25 percent fewer emissions than the EPA's voluntary standard allows and eventually 50 percent fewer, deputy director Miller said.

"These things smoke because they are incredibly inefficient," he said.

Central Boiler of Greenbush, Minn., a leading manufacturer of outdoor wood boilers, promotes them as environmentally friendly because they burn wood, a renewable resource, Vice President Rodney Tollefson said. A homeowner can recover the investment within five years, he said.

The company advises buyers in densely populated areas to make sure the height of the smoke stack exceeds the roof lines of homes, he said. "I have never seen a situation where they can't have a chimney high enough to resolve the situation."

But governments are acting as more of the wood boilers appear on the landscape.

About a year ago, Lake Mills, a city of about 5,300 people in southern Wisconsin, passed an ordinance that essentially banned them by regulating the space needed, city manager Steve Wilke said.

"If every house had one, you would have so much smoke you couldn't breathe," he said.

Robert Lins and his wife Meredith of rural Cambridge, near Madison, spent one winter putting up with smoke from a wood boiler, which was installed about 200 feet from their home.

"I had pretty chronic bronchitis. I had headaches," the 64-year-old retired doctor said. "A couple of nights we had to leave and go sleep at my father's."

The neighbor eventually sold the home, removed the boiler and moved to the country, Lins said.

The family told the Lins they heated their home for $14 a month.

"That was pretty impressive. But they are just not very healthy," Lins said. "They don't belong in any place where a person doesn't have enough acreage to take care of the smoke."

Full Article: CLICK HERE

April 10, 2008

Supervisors discuss proposed outdoor furnace ordinance

By ERIC LONG elong@sungazette.com

Muncy Township supervisors got a look at a sample ordinance that would regulate outdoor furnaces and are hoping to tweak that slightly before bringing the proposal to the public later this year.

“The ordinance we have here requires a 20-foot chimney and a power ventilation system when necessary,” board chairman Paul O. Wentzler said, referring to the sample ordinance brought by solicitor Garth Everett. “The chimney must be 20 feet and be a dual-lined, insulated chimney. The ordinance here says it must be installed to create a positive draft.”

Supervisors Ken Snyder and Greg Gilbert asked what would be allowed to be burned in the furnaces under the proposed ordinance. Wentzler said that only untreated wood, wood products and coal would be allowed. No railroad ties or treated wood would be allowed.

“We want to keep this as simple as possible,” Wentzler said. “With energy prices, I suspect this (outdoor furnaces) won’t go away.”

Wentzler also asked Everett to write a definition of what an outdoor furnace is.

“Someone could put a roof over it and say it isn’t an outdoor furnace any more,” he said. “We need to define exactly what an outdoor furnace is.”

Everett said he would make changes and get back to the board with a written proposal for the township’s own ordinance. Wentzler said the ordinance should be ready to enact by this summer.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

April 9, 2008

Wood stoves a hot issue for some

Carleta Weyrich
Reporter


With a growing demand for outdoor wood-fired boilers and increasing complaints from neighbors who live near operating units, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has drafted rules to regulate the boilers.

Outdoor wood-fired boilers are furnaces designed to heat an entire home. They are bulk-loaded with wood that is burned, and the heat is transferred through a firebox surface to a surrounding water reservoir. The water is then piped through the rooms for heat. What OEPA hopes to regulate is the smoke coming from the chimney of the boilers.

"These rules are preliminary," Linda Fee Oros, a spokesperson for OEPA, said Tuesday. "We put the drafted rules out for comment. We have received a lot of comments, and we are evaluating them. After making adjustments, we will re-issue a proposed rule. There will be another comment period and a public forum. We hope to have the final rule in place by the end of summer."

Highlights of the preliminary rules are:

• Establishes requirements for acceptable fuels such as "clean wood" that does not have paint, stains or other types of coatings, and wood that has not been treated.

• Two phases of emissions testing: phase I limits emissions from boiler smoke stacks to .44-pound of particulate per million BTU, effective six months after the effective date of the approved rules; phase II limits emissions to .32-pound of particulate per million BTU, and would become effective on July 1, 2010. (One BTU equals the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water from 59 degrees Fahrenheit to 60 degrees at a constant pressure).

• Installation of the boilers would have to be no less than 200 feet from a property line.

• A permanent smoke stack would have to extend at least five feet higher than the peak of any roof structure located within 150 feet of the boiler.

• No boiler could be used from April 15 to Sept. 13 of any year, unless the boiler is certified to meet the emission limits.

• If an existing and installed boiler in a restricted area does not meet the emissions standards, setback and stack height requirements, it would have to be removed or rendered inoperable by July 1, 2010.

(Restricted area means within the boundary of any municipal corporation, plus a zone extending 1,000 feet beyond the boundaries for populations of 1,00 to 10,000 or a zone extending one mile beyond the municipality if it has a population of 10,000 or more).

• In unrestricted areas (any area outside a restricted area), the boilers would have to meet the setback and stack height requirements or be removed or rendered inoperable by July 1, 2015.

Citizens interested in commenting on the proposed rules should contact the OEPA Public Interest Center by sending a letter to P.O. Box 1049, 50 West Town Street, Suite 700, Columbus, Ohio 43216-1049; or by calling 614-644-2160.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

April 8, 2008

North Andover board sets rules for outdoor wood-burning furnaces

By Drake Lucas
Staff writer

NORTH ANDOVER — Outdoor wood-burning furnaces will be allowed in North Andover, but with restrictions.

The Board of Health has decided on regulations that say the furnaces can only go on a lot of at least two acres, must be 100 feet from the lot line, and must have a stack 24 inches above the roof of any house within 300 feet.

"Our idea wasn't to be particularly restrictive, just to get a fair set of regulations," said Board of Health Chairman Thomas Trowbridge. "For someone who wants to put in these units, this should be very doable."

The furnaces, also known as boilers, are set outside in an enclosure with a smokestack. The wood heats water that is then connected by pipes to the house to be used for heating and hot water. They also are used sometimes for saunas and swimming pools.

No one has asked the Board of Health for a permit for the furnaces yet, but Trowbridge said the board wanted to be proactive in coming up with rules for the furnaces because people have complained about smoke from them in other communities. The Board of Health put a moratorium on putting in the furnaces in January while it worked on the regulations. The ban will be lifted once the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection approves the regulations.

The DEP, on its Web site, warns that wood smoke contains chemicals and gases that can cause or worsen serious health problems, including carbon monoxide, soot and fine particles.

The state does not have restrictions on the furnaces, so some communities have set up their own. Trowbridge said the board looked at the regulations of various communities and also other states to come up with something that would be fair for someone who wants to install one of the furnaces. One of the regulations the board included was a minimum lot size to make sure the furnaces aren't put in areas that are densely populated with homes where the smoke could bother close neighbors.

Anyone who wants to put in a furnace must get a permit from the Board of Health. Once the furnace is put in, only seasoned firewood and untreated lumber can be burned. The furnaces also must be a US EPA OWHH Phase 1 model, meaning they are a cleaner wood-fired furnace, and the furnace must have a thermal efficiency of at least 75 percent.

If the Board of Health decides a furnace does not follow regulations, the furnace has to be shut off until it is in compliance. The owner will be charged $100 per day that it runs against regulations.

Trowbridge said a permit from the Board of Health is part of the building process. The owner would still need to get approval from other boards, including the Conservation Commission and the Planning Board.

 

Outdoor wood-burning furnace regulations:

r Only seasoned firewood and untreated lumber can be burned.

r The minimum lot size is two acres.

r Must be at least 100 feet from lot line.

r Must have US EPA OWHH Phase 1 model status.

r Must have thermal efficiency of at least 75 percent.

r The stack height must be 24 inches above peak of any house roof within 300 feet.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

April 4, 2008

Trustees set rules for new furnaces

May affect active outdoor units in Rootstown

Diane Smith

April 4, 2008

By Diane Smith 

Record-Courier staff writer

ROOTSTOWN -- Township Trustees have approved new regulations on outdoor furnaces, but one resident is concerned that the new rules could impact his $10,000 investment. 

Trustees also acknowledged that their new rules would be void if the state enacts its own regulations on the burners. 

An amended form of the regulations, which were drafted by the township's zoning commission, were approved last week. They will go into effect in 30 days.

The rules would permit the furnaces in various residential districts on lots of 1.5 acres and larger. 

Trustee Diane Dillon objected to one segment of the rules that stated which residential districts the burners could be used in because she said property owners should be able to use them in all districts, including commercial buildings.

Under the rules, furnaces must be located in the rear yard, and would use only "allowable fuels." The regulations also specify how far the furnace must be from the nearest home, and from the neighboring property line. 

The township also would require a permanent smoke stack at least 5 feet higher than the peak of any roof within 150 feet, similar to the rules the EPA is considering.

 Brian Munger of Biltz Road said the rules would impose too many limits on his furnace, which he purchased for $10,000. Although his furnace is only 25 feet from his property line, it is 500 feet from the nearest dwelling.

 The rules on chimney height would require him to have a 37 foot smoke stack for the unit, because he lives in a two-story home. That would increase the amount of particulate matter released into the air, he said.

"Burning wood does not add to the greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere," he said, adding that units should be tested if there is a complaint about odors to be sure that trash and tires are not being burned.

 He said this year, he spent $100 to heat his home, compared to an estimated $3,000 he would have spent on fuel oil.

 "I did this so I would be able to spend that extra money on my family instead of sending it to the fuel companies, who are basically sending it overseas."

Several township officials said they would contact their state representatives and ask that the new regulations include a grandfather clause to exempt the 14,500 units now in use in Ohio.

Dillon said she's "90 percent sure" the EPA will not grandfather the units.


"I'm all for these units and people being able to save money, but from what I understand, they can be a fire hazard," she said. "There has to be a chimney above the roof line just like indoor furnaces."

Full Article: CLICK HERE

April 2, 2008 (Canada)

Wood burners restricted

April 02, 2008

 

Vanderhoof District Council has given three readings to a bylaw which would restrict the installation of outdoor wood boilers to lower-density areas of the district.

The bylaw would not affect outdoor solid fuel combustion appliances which are already installed, but would require new installations to conform to certification by either the Canadian Standards Association or the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

The bylaw also states that only permitted woodburning fuels are allowed in the appliances. This means seasoned, untreated wood or manufactured products like wood pellets.

Existing units and emissions will be addressed in an upcoming clean air bylaw.

Before the bylaw can be adopted, it has to be cleared by the Ministry of Health.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

April 1, 2008

Norfolk to consider outdoor wood burning furnace regulations

REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

NORFOLK -- With winter's chill in retreat but oil prices still rising, town officials are about to raise the question of how to regulate outdoor wood burning furnaces. In the spirit of Yankee thrift and resourcefulness, some say it's their right to use wood to heat their homes. Local planning and zoning commissioners who favor an ordinance banning them will weigh comments at a hearing this month and decide if the smoke-belching units that could pose a health threat outweigh the right to use an alternative energy source. They could also compromise and fall back on state regulations that require a 200-foot distance from buildings. However, because there are no regulations here governing the use of the furnaces, it is not known how many residents actually have them, or are using them. "With oil prices rising, we can't prevent people from heating with wood if that is their only affordable option," Norfolk First Selectman Susan Dyer said. "I don't want an ordinance, but we don't want people burning garbage and tires, either."
 
Full Article: CLICK HERE

March 31, 2008

Victor regulates outdoor furnaces

By Staff reports
Daily Messenger
Victor, N.Y. - Following suit with other municipalities, the town has adopted a new law regulating outdoor furnaces.

The new law, adopted by the Town Board last week, calls for a 75-foot setback and requires furnace users to only use wood that is not contaminated with chemicals. Phased into the law will be the requirement that users comply with emission standards from the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

Also, the law allows anyone who has been denied a furnace to take their case to the Board of Appeals.

A public hearing on the furnace issue had been held open for several Town Board meetings while the board looked at two proposals: one to ban the furnaces altogether and another to allow the Board of Appeals to consider them in residential areas, and with 200-foot setbacks.

Board member Peter Hessney said previously that the 200-foot restriction was too much; he suggested the 75-foot setback would be more appropriate.

Usually installed to heat homes, the shed-like stoves are larger than indoor stoves and can take up to 8-foot logs. They have become an increasingly popular alternative as  people look to save money as prices for oil, propane and natural gas have risen. But health and pollution concerns have arisen over the smoke they produce.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

March 31, 2008

Texas Township to vote on outdoor furnaces

Monday, March 31, 2008

BY FRAN WILCOX

Special to Hometown Gazette

TEXAS TOWNSHIP -- A long struggle between supporters and opponents of outdoor furnaces may finally be drawing to an end in Texas Township.

The board of trustees plans to publish what is most likely the final version of an ordinance regulating the use of outdoor woodburners and to vote on the ordinance at its next meeting, at 7 p.m. April 14 in the township hall, 7110 West Q Ave.

In its current incarnation, the ordinance regulates outdoor furnaces that burn wood, coal or corn. Those using natural gas, propane or fuel oil are exempt from the ordinance but must meet any relevant township mechanical and zoning requirements for inspections and setbacks.

Outdoor furnaces covered by the ordinance must be on a parcel of at least 5 acres, and owners must apply for and receive a permit before installing the furnace. Furnaces installed after the ordinance takes effect must also:

v Be at least 500 feet from any dwelling owned by someone else;

v Be at least 50 feet from any property line;

v Have a chimney that reaches at least 20 feet above the grade plane;

v Meet all manufacturer, state construction code and township fire code specifications;

v Burn only fuels designated by the manufacturer;

v Not be used from May 1 to Oct. 15;

v Be limited to one furnace per parcel.

Existing furnaces must be at least 300 feet from any dwelling owned by someone else, must be brought into compliance with the chimney requirement, and must obey the burning season. The owner must apply for and receive a permit and meet these requirements within one year of the ordinance taking effect.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

March 31, 2008

Illinois City Proposes Wood-Burning Stove Ordinance
in Thermal News > Industry Watch
by AER Staff on Monday 31 March 2008
 

Winter is roughly nine months away, but the city government in Rock Falls, Ill., is already considering how local homeowners with wood-burning furnaces can save money on their home heating costs.

The Daily Gazette reports the Rock Falls City Council's Ordinance Committee has approved a preliminary law that allows residents to operate outdoor wood-burning furnaces, albeit it with certain restrictions. The proposed ordinance would only allow homeowners to burn unpainted wood, wood pellets, corn products, natural gas or propane; they will not be allowed burn painted, varnished or glued wood, garbage, plastic, rubber, newspapers or cardboard.

The proposed ordinance will also require the stoves be at least 25 feet inside a property line and 100 feet from any residence that does not have an outdoor wood furnace. In addition, the chimneys of wood-burning furnaces will need to be at least two feet taller than the peak of any roof within 300 feet that does not have an outdoor wood furnace.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

March 28, 2008

Rock Falls drafting rules for outdoor wood furnaces



ROCK FALLS -- As this winter comes to an end, the city is considering whether to allow residents to use wood-burning furnaces as a home heating source when next winter arrives.

In response to inquiries from several residents, the City Council's Ordinance Committee approved a preliminary law Thursday allowing people to have outdoor wood-burning furnaces with some significant restrictions.

The city code does not address the issue.

Outdoor wood furnaces use unpainted wood, wood pellets, corn products, natural gas or propane to heat homes and water.

The proposed ordinance would not allow people to burn painted, varnished or glued wood, garbage, plastic, rubber, newspaper or cardboard.

The ordinance stipulates that the furnaces must be at least 25 feet inside a property line and 100 feet from any residence that does not have an outdoor wood furnace. In addition, the chimneys of wood-burning furnaces must be at least 2 feet taller than the peak of any roof within 300 feet that does not have an outdoor wood furnace.

The restrictions would make such furnaces difficult to install, City Administrator Richard Downey acknowledged; however, they are designed to keep the furnaces from being a nuisance to neighbors, Alderman Bob Thurm said.

The ordinance now goes to the full council for revisions or approval.

Reach Joseph Bustos at (815) 625-3600 or (800) 798-4085, ext. 529.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

March 26, 2008

Proposed regulations for outdoor stoves aired

By George Barnes TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF
gbarnes@telegram.com
 
 


ATHOL—
A formal public hearing will not be held until June, but several residents weighed in last night on what they do not like about a draft of regulations for outdoor wood-burning boilers.

Joan Hamlett, vice chairman of the Board of Health, said the board is creating regulations for the installation and use of the boilers, which have been appearing at homes around town over the past several years.

“At this point there is a moratorium until we figure out what is best for Athol and Athol’s situation,” she said.

Ms. Hamlett said the regulations are being developed to ensure public health and safety and what is fair and just for people who have already installed boilers in their homes. She said the board hoped to create regulations that would allow the use of the boilers in appropriate places.

“We have the power to ban them, but it is not our intention to ban them,” she said.

Health Agent Philip Leger said that whatever the town creates for regulations it will have to be in line with what the state Department of Environmental Protection is creating. He said he expects the new DEP regulations to be more stringent than federal regulations already in place.

In a letter to the board, resident Stephen A. Clark questioned the need for the regulations, suggesting the board table any action or seek a town meeting vote.

Among the concerns raised by the eight owners of outdoor boilers at the meeting was a setback requirement in the draft regulations. It requires that all boilers be at least 500 feet from any building that is not on the same lot. A circle with a 500-foot radius from a boiler would cover many acres.

The boiler owners were also concerned about the $150 for a permit for people who already have boilers. They also said a proposed rule that a stack to a boiler be two feet higher than the highest peak of the highest residence in a 500-foot radius would interfere with the operation of the boiler.

Ms. Hamlett said the height requirement was something the board would need to study. She said the board’s regulations could not interfere with the manufacturer’s standards for operating the boiler.

The boiler owners were told that if a building contained the boilers or if they were installed inside, they would not fall under board rules.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

March 26, 2008

Kingston Township regulates wood burners
BY ELIZABETH SKRAPITS
STAFF WRITER

KINGSTON TWP. — The issue of outdoor wood burners reached boiling point Tuesday.

After a public hearing, the township supervisors unanimously passed the first ordinance of 2008, which regulates the installation, maintenance and use of outdoor solid fuel furnaces, sometimes called wood burners or boilers.

Resident Ed Gryskevicz, who has one, called the decision “bittersweet, basically.”

The supervisors didn’t outright ban outdoor boilers as he feared, after spending about $11,000 on his. However, under the new ordinance, Gryskevicz and other owners of the units will have to have them inspected by Code Enforcement Officer Bill Eck to ensure they were installed according to manufacturer’s specifications.

Owners also must ensure smoke from them doesn’t create a public nuisance or they could face legal action.

To cut down on smoke, Gryskevicz said he would have to get the hardest, most-aged wood he could and consider burning coal more often. He uses his boiler year-round to heat his house and garage and for hot water.

Gryskevicz’s boiler has been a problem for his neighbors, Mark and Maureen Albrecht and Ted and Sandy Jackson, who were among about two dozen residents at Tuesday’s hearing.

The Albrechts and Jacksons have been to other meetings to complain about smoke invading their homes and even their cars.

Maureen Albrecht, who said she recently had to start taking asthma medicine again and has been hospitalized for attacks, urged the supervisors to make the ordinance even stricter.

“I don’t like the way I feel when that thing is running,” Maureen Albrecht said, referring to the boiler. Neither should her children nor others in the neighborhood be subjected to its smoke, she said.

The public nuisance aspect of the boilers is what prompted the supervisors to draw up the ordinance. Wood boilers have not been around for very long, and Solicitor Benjamin Jones III said there is a dearth of case law on the subject.

The supervisors spent “extensive time” doing research to come up with an ordinance that would best protect residents now and also in the future, Supervisor James Reino said.

Since there was nothing in the federal or state law books about the boilers, something had to be done at the municipal level to ensure units are properly installed, Supervisor Chairman Dave Brodhead said.

“Follow the manufacturers’ recommendations. That’s all we’re asking,” he said.

eskrapits@citizensvoice.com, 570-821-2072

Full Article: CLICK HERE

March 25, 2008

Townships Regulates Wood Burners 

In Kingston Township, a permit and inspection is required within 30 days.

CAMILLE FIOTI Times Leader Correspondent

KINGSTON TWP. – Township officials voted at a special meeting Tuesday to enact an ordinance to regulate the use of outdoor wood burners, also known as “wood boilers” or “solid fuel furnaces.”

There are five known appliances in the township. The ordinance, which goes into effect on April 25, requires owners of existing furnaces to register their units with the township and have it inspected by the township’s code enforcement officer to determine compliance with its manufacturers’ installation specifications and use instructions.

The inspection must be made within 90 days of the effective date of the ordinance. It also requires owners of new burners to purchase a permit in the amount of $40 and have the unit inspected within 30 days of the installation.

Sandra Jackson protested the ordinance. Her Belford Street home is adjacent to a wood boiler, owned by Ed Gryskevicz, of North Lehigh Street. Jackson, who’s an asthmatic, said she hasn’t had to take her asthma medication in years, but she’s recently had to go back on it because the smoke from Gryskevicz’s burner has aggravated her condition.

“Our health is being jeopardized by allowing wood burners to burn in the township,” she said.

Gryskevicz said he purchased his burner two years ago because it became too expensive to heat his all-electric home. “I would have replaced my existing furnace if I knew it would cause a problem,” he said, adding that he got the OK from Bill Eck, the township’s zoning officer, prior to purchasing the burner.

Board of supervisors chairman Dave Brodhead pointed out that Eck gave the go-ahead because there wasn’t an ordinance regarding outdoor burners at the time. Gryskevicz assured that going forward, he will only burn hard wood and coal, which produces less smoke.

Township solicitor Ben Jones assured the residents that the township could suspend a permit if emissions from an appliance is deemed a public nuisance. Violations of the ordinance will also result in a fine of up to $500 plus prosecution costs.

A complete copy of the ordinance is available upon request at the municipal building at 180 E. Center St., Shavertown.

Full Article:  CLICK HERE

March 25, 2008 (Canada)

Heated lawsuit over stove's wood smoke
Published: March 25, 2008 at 11:23 AM


UXBRIDGE, Ontario, March 25 (UPI) -- A southern Ontario family has been ordered to disconnect an outdoor wood-fired boiler in a legal fight with neighbors over the smell, a judge ruled.

The spat between the two families in rural Uxbridge, northeast of Toronto, began two years ago when Iain Pike spent $13,400 on the device, which he told the Globe and Mail newspaper lowered his home and garage heating bills by two-thirds.

Neighbor Robert Scott complained the smoke was causing him and his family health problems and he sued for $200,000 in damages.

Pike argued unsuccessfully in court that neighbors on the other side didn't smell smoke and said they even paid to be hooked up to the water heating system for their home, the report said.

In ordering the boiler shutdown, Justice Fred Graham of the Ontario Superior Court cited medical concerns under review in Canada and the United States.

Figures for Canada aren't available, but the newspaper said the number of boilers sold in the United States jumped from 195 in 1990 to 67,546 in 2005, the latest year of statistics available.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

March 25, 2008

Stove stokes smouldering rift between neighbouring families

For years the Scotts and Pikes were friendly neighbours, frequently helping each other out at their homes near Uxbridge, Ont.

But that all ended two years ago when the Pikes spent $13,400 on an outdoor wood-fired boiler to heat their home and garage.

The Scotts immediately complained about smoke from the boiler and eventually sued, alleging the pollution was damaging their health. They demanded the Pikes remove the boiler and they sought roughly $200,000 in damages.

"This is the last thing we wanted to do," Robert Scott said from his home.

The Pikes were stunned and insisted in court filings that they had done all they could to modify the boiler to keep the smoke down. They pointed out that no one else had complained and that neighbours on the other side, the Kerrigans, even paid to have their house connected to the boiler.

"They are kind of killing a fly with a sledgehammer," Iain Pike said from his home, referring to the Scotts. "We've got two young kids here. We've never smelled smoke in our house. The other neighbour has never smelled smoke in his house."

Last week, an Ontario judge sided with the Scotts for now and issued a temporary injunction ordering the Pikes to shut down their boiler pending the outcome of the lawsuit.

There is evidence "of a real risk of harm and/or actual continuing harm to the [Scotts'] health as well as other aspects of loss of use and enjoyment of their home and yard," Mr. Justice Fred Graham of the Ontario Superior Court said in his ruling. The circumstances of the case, he added, "warrant taking the drastic and extraordinary step" of issuing the injunction.

The lawsuit is believed to be the first in Canada to tackle growing concerns about the health effects of smoke from wood-burning stoves. With oil prices soaring, wood has become a popular heating alternative for many Canadians. More than three million people use wood for all or part of their heating needs, according to Environment Canada.

Outdoor wood-fired boilers - essentially wood-fuelled furnaces housed in insulated sheds - have become particularly popular in rural areas. The number of boilers sold in the United States jumped from 195 in 1990 to 67,546 in 2005, according to the latest available figures. Comparable figures are not available for Canada, but there are an estimated 48,700 wood-fired boilers across the country.

Mr. Pike said he chose the boiler because he wanted to do something good for the environment and get rid of the dangerous wood stoves in his home and garage. The boiler is located in his backyard and it cycles hot water to the house and garage through a series of underground pipes. The pipes are connected to the Pikes' home furnace, which circulates the warm air. Since installing the boiler, Mr. Pike has cut his annual heating bill by more than two-thirds.

But several agencies, regulators and governments in the U.S. and Canada have raised concerns about smoke from the boilers. Tough regulations have also been put in place in several communities on both sides of the border.

"While all wood smoke is harmful, outdoor wood boilers are particularly dangerous, and generate eight to 10 times more pollution than indoor wood stoves and hundreds to thousands times more particulate matter than oil and gas appliances," said Dr. Menn Biagtan, of the British Columbia Lung Association.

As part of his lawsuit, Mr. Scott cited studies by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and a group of state governments. The study for the states concluded that one boiler emitted as much fine particulate matter as four heavy-duty diesel trucks.

Mr. Scott alleged in court filings that smoke from the Pikes' boiler got so bad the family could barely go outside and began suffering shortness of breath, headaches as well as eye, sinus and throat irritations.

The boiler industry has shot back with studies showing boilers are no more harmful than other wood stoves. The industry also points out that modern boilers are more efficient and meet environmental standards.

Mr. Pike said he knows about a dozen people who have boilers and they have not received complaints from neighbours. "I kind of think it's a lot of people making a big issue out of nothing," he said.

Mr. Pike said he doesn't have much to do with his neighbour any more and he called the lawsuit a "gigantic pain in the butt."

When asked about his relationship with the Pikes, Mr. Scott laughed and said: "You don't have to ask me that really, do you? It's just as you imagine it would be. We had a good relationship beforehand, we helped each other out, but obviously that's changed."

Full Article: CLICK HERE

March 24, 2008

Neighbors Are Unsure of Burners:

Kingston Twp. is having a public hearing to vote on a new ordinance regarding wood burners Tuesday.

CAMILLE FIOTI Times Leader Correspondent

KINGSTON TWP. – Outdoor wood burners, also known as “wood boilers” or “solid fuel furnaces” have become attractive to some homeowners looking for an alternative to conventional heating systems.

In Kingston Township, there are at least five in use, according to township manager Kelly Biddle-Cook.

However, outdoor furnaces are bothersome to others because they can emit an excessive amount of smoke if not used properly.

In response to complaints of smoke and fumes, the township wants to regulate burners. A public hearing to vote on a new ordinance will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Jason Rushmer, of Manor Drive, told supervisors in January that he invested $12,000 for a wood burner to heat his home and possibly a future greenhouse and barn on his 75-acre parcel. Instead of writing a new ordinance, he suggests citing burner offenders under the township nuisance ordinance.

Emissions from his burner, Rushmer said, are no more dangerous than emissions from coal burners and automobiles.

Rushmer’s neighbor, John Corrigan, of Legend Drive, said he doesn’t have a problem with the burner, located 100 feet from his backyard.

“It’s no worse than a fireplace,” he said, pointing out that his daughter, who has severe environmental allergies, has never complained about the burner.

But other township residents aren’t so happy. Ted Jackson, of Belford Street, said he lives near a wood furnace. “I can’t hang clothes on the line or put food on my back porch,” he told the supervisors at the January meeting. “It stinks, it smells and it’s unfair.”

Lehigh Street resident, Mark Albrecht, whose wife has asthma, told the board clouds of green smoke from his neighbor’s burner waft directly into his house. We are suffering every day,” he said.

According to the state Department of Environmental Protection agency Web site, outdoor boilers can produce a lot of smoke if the operator fuels the fire with wet wood or trash.

To burn more cleanly, DEP advises burning only clean, dry or seasoned wood and to not allow the fire to smolder for long periods.

Ordinance highlights

• Requires any new or existing appliance be inspected to determine compliance with its manufacturer’s specifications.

• The owner must register any new or existing appliance with the township and obtain a permit at a cost of $40 for new appliances.

• The fuels recommended by the manufacturer can be burned.

• Residue of spent fuel and fuel debris shall not be accumulated on the premises for more than 90 days.

• Burners can only operate between Sept. 1 and May 31, unless the appliance is used as the sole source of residential interior heat or domestic hot water.

• Violations will result in a suspension of the permit and a fine of up to $500 plus prosecution costs.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

March 20, 2008

Hobart couple dispute violations

March 20, 2008

 

HOBART -- Daniel Meggenhofen was defiant when he appeared before the Board of Public Works on Wednesday.

"This is a kangaroo court," he told Mayor Brian Snedecor and board members Rich Lain and Thomas Ehrhardt. "I've been told by a reliable contractor that I'm not in violation of city codes."

Meggenhofen, a 34-year resident of the Nob Hill section of the city, is facing $2,900 in fines and a possible lien on his house next month if he ignores the board's orders to comply with building and nuisance city codes.

Building Commissioner Carroll Lewis cited Meggenhofen for having his storm water drainage line and a sump pump connected to the city's sanitary sewer system.

Meggenhofen, 60, and wife, Patricia, who live at 3435 Shelby St., were also cited for not maintaining their property and for not obtaining a permit for an outdoor wood-burning furnace.

They were also told to contact the city planner to determine if they needed a zoning variance for the lean-to that houses the furnace.

Meggenhofen said he's already disconnected the drainage lines from the city's sewer system. But Lewis told the board the Hobart homeowner failed to request an inspection so city officials could verify his claim.

Lewis also presented the board with pictures showing that the Meggenhofens' backyard was cluttered with mounds of metal and other debris.

Patricia Meggenhofen said for the last two weeks she and her husband have spent their time addressing the storm water issues and haven't had time to address the other issues.

Snedecor, who said he has received numerous complaints from Meggenhofens' neighbors, was less than sympathetic.

"If the property has not been significantly cleaned up by next month, I will make a motion to lien your property," Snedecor told the couple.

Last fall, the city charged the Meggenhofens $900 after discovering they had released 80 gallons of diesel fuel into the city's sanitary system. So far, they have paid $125 of that amount.

They were later fined $1,000 for failing to disconnect their storm water drainage lines from city sewers.

Two weeks ago, they were fined $500 after they failed to clean up their yard.

"We've removed more than two tons of steel from our yards," said Patricia Meggenhofen, explaining her husband is a welder.

Snedecor asked that a second $500 fine be levied because they had not obtained a permit for their furnace. The Meggenhofens are to appear before the board again on April 2 and 16.

In an unrelated matter, the public works board is citing houses at 229 N. Ohio and at 850 N. Wisconsin for not being maintained and posing a public nuisance.

 

Contact Karen Snelling at 648-3106 or ksnelling@post-trib.com

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

March 17, 2008

Sparks fly over Melrose stove restrictions: Residents burned over boiler ban

Where there's smoke, there's fire.

At least two Melrose residents are upset that their outdoor wood furnaces face new restrictions after the village passed a new ordinance in January.

Peggy Trachta, 304 S. Washington St., and Jerry Oehler, 327 W. Bristol St., came to the March 5 Melrose Village Board meeting to express their displeasure with the village's ordinance. The ordinance prohibits the installation of any new outdoor furnaces in the village. It also would grandfather in the eight existing stoves already in use, but would require them to be inspected every year for a permit and would end their use after May 1, 2015. Violators could be fined at least $100 and police can enforce the ordinance.

The village board discussed the ordinance for six months, sent out letters to homeowners who have the outdoor furnaces, published legal notices and held a public hearing in December. No one showed up. The new ordinance was enacted by the board Jan. 2.

Trachta and Oehler came with plenty of questions this time. "Do you realize the expense that people have in these furnaces," Trachta said. "How come people with inside furnaces don't have to stop. You still are burning wood."

While the ink is barely dry on the ordinance, the village may need to clean-up some of the language. Trachta asked the board if her outdoor furnace - which apparently does not have a boiler - would be covered under the ordinance.

Trustee Randy Ebert said he didn't think Trachta would need a permit.

"If you don't have an outdoor boiler, then you aren't covered in the ordinance," Ebert said.

Both Ebert and Village President LeRoy Craig said the ordinance was aimed at the wood-fired boilers that burn at lower temperatures, which sit on the ground and have short chimney stacks.

But Village Attorney Paul Bohac said the ordinance language would cover any outdoor wood furnace - not just boilers. That prompted the board to send the ordinance back for more committee work and a recommendation to back a revised version at the April 2 meeting.

Oehler, who has an outdoor boiler, said it is a custom stove he built himself. He asked Ebert - who lives two houses away - if he ever had any problems with the smoke coming from his stove. Ebert told him no.

"How can you legally take away property," Oehler asked.

Craig said issue is not about property, but rather a health and safety issue. The slow-burning stoves put out thick smoke and particulate matter that stays close to the ground. He also said people have been abusing their stoves by burning inappropriate materials, creating an even more hazardous situation.

"The state's got information that proves this is dangerous," Ebert said, adding that the village had an obligation to act on a public health issue. "We didn't wake up and say 'let's screw everyone with an outdoor boiler.'"

Craig said other municipalities in the state are restricting or banning the stoves because of the same health concerns.

"Our main concern is the quality of air in the village," said trustee Kathy Dunn.

In a follow-up interview Monday outside his home, Oehler said his stove does not smoke as much as other outdoor boilers because he configured the radiators inside his house differently, making the stove burn hotter. Oehler also said that he has consulted with an attorney, who told him the village does not have the legal right to take away property.

Oehler said he talked with the other owners of outdoors stoves in the village and asked them also to attend the March 5 meeting. He said he plans to pursue his options. "I don't give up," he said.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

March 17, 2008

Township approves changes to ordinance for alternative energy

Sean Harkins

March 17, 2008 

On Monday, the Alpena Township Board of Trustees approved amendments to the township’s zoning ordinance to include provisions on outdoor wood burning furnaces and wind turbines.

Lots must be a minimum of one acre to be able to use a wood burning furnace, according to the amended ordinance.

The other requirements include setbacks of 50 feet from all lot lines, a spark arrestor on the furnace and the furnace must placed in the rear yard.

Wind turbine generators also were added to the zoning ordinance.

Full Article:  CLICK HERE

March 16, 2008

City moves toward outdoor wood boiler furnace ban

NEW BEDFORD — City health officials are moving to ban the use of outdoor wood boiler furnaces, although there is only one confirmed installation in the city causing concerns about pollutants and impact on neighbors and the environment.

The Board of Health last week discussed following the lead of two other Massachusetts communities that have banned the furnaces. Board members also discussed the possibility the state may enact a ban.

Officials said they want to move carefully to assure any action they take is legally sound and can withstand challenge.

The issue was brought to the forefront by Ward 1 City Councilor Linda M. Morad, who was contacted by people living near a New Plainville Road home, where the owner installed an outdoor wood boiler furnace to provide heat and hot water.

Health officials said a second furnace may be in operation at a commercial location in the city, but that has not been confirmed. Other installations could exist without their knowledge, officials said.

Ms. Morad said neighbors of the family using the outdoor wood boiler furnace complained to her and she became concerned about health issues and environmental damage. Ms. Morad said the science of the furnace and environmental impact were too complex for her to make a judgment, so she brought it to the attention of the city Health Department. She said that although she supports alternative technologies in place of conventional energy sources, she believes those technologies must not have harmful effects for people and the environment.

Based on what the Health Department has reported, it appears this type of furnace should be regulated, Ms. Morad said. She said she is pleased that the department and Board of Health are moving ahead cautiously on the matter.

Outdoor wood boilers also are known as outdoor water stoves and outdoor wood furnaces. They comprise a wood-burning firebox surrounded by a water jacket or reservoir and vented by a chimney stack, all of which is enclosed in a shed-like building separate from a house or other building.

Hot water for heating and water use is piped into the main building from the shed.

Outdoor wood boilers cost from $3,000 to $10,000, according to EnvironmentalChemistry.com. That site states that the furnace design produces a slow burning, cooler fire intended to maximize heat. "However, slower cooler fires are inefficient and create more smoke and creosote," the site states.

The federal government and some states have regulations in place for wood stoves, but outdoor wood boilers are not regulated yet at the national level and in most states.

Two cities in Massachusetts — Holyoke and Chicopee — have passed outright bans working in concert with the state Department of Environmental Protection, the Board of Health was told. Those cities' bans could serve as a model for New Bedford, city Public Health Director Marianne B. DeSouza said.

Before enacting a city ban, which would be subject to approval by the state DEP, a public hearing probably would be held, Ms. DeSouza said.

She said there are a number of alternative energy sources available and "this is not a safe one."

Ms. DeSouza said that from what she has learned while researching the subject, the outdoor wood boilers can put out a cloud of pollution that travels before descending on nearby homes, causing particulates and other pollution that create health problems for neighbors.

In addition, the city fire prevention bureau has been called to the New Plainville Road address on more than one occasion because of the outdoor wood boiler, officials said.

The Health Department would give people using the outdoor wood boilers enough time to convert to a more conventional system if a ban is enacted, officials said.

Contact Joe Cohen at jcohen@s-t.com

Full Article: CLICK HERE

March 15, 2008

Somers Zoning Commission to hold hearing on zone change for business on Field Road

On the issue of the proposed ban for outdoor wood-burning furnaces, the commission had previously tabled any action it in order to confer with the building inspector and the fire marshal, commission Chairman Robert Martin said.
The commission had sought to ban wood-burning furnaces but is now pursuing regulating their use, he said.
Carson said new regulations would likely include the minimum permit requirements regarding location and smoke capacity outlined by the state Department of Environmental Protection, and stipulate what months those furnaces can be used.
"That (option) seemed to be palatable to people at the public hearing," she said.
The furnace regulation has been an issue for the commission since some residents have complained about their existence, she said.
Outdoor wood-burning furnaces have been banned in Hebron and Tolland. They're usually housed in sheds with tall smokestacks or chimneys designed to lessen the immediate impact from the smoke. The furnaces burn wood to heat water, which is then used to heat buildings or as hot water for showers and sinks.
The meeting will be held at 7 p.m., at Town Hall, 600 Main St.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

March 15, 2008

More communities look to regulate outdoor boilers

3/15/2008 9:07:47 AM

By Dawn Schuett

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN 

PLAINVIEW -- With the increasing demand for alternative energy sources for home heating, more communities throughout the region are considering ordinances to regulate outdoor boilers that use wood or corn as fuel.

Cities including Eyota and Elgin already have such ordinances in place, while Plainview and Oronoco are in the early stages of drafting an ordinance.

"The main concern is smoke possibly irritating neighbors as well as storage of the fuel," said Steven Robertson, city administrator for Plainview. "You don't want to allow people to cause undue nuisances to the neighbors, so it's that balancing point the council is always trying to be aware of -- the private rights versus the public good."

The Plainview City Council last month placed a moratorium on issuing building permits for outdoor boilers, also referred to as burners, while it creates an ordinance that specifies setback distances and how the wood or corn used for fuel can be stored.

The boilers work by burning the fuel source to heat water that is then carried through underground pipes into a building for heat and to provide hot water.

Robertson said he doesn't know of any outdoor burners in use within city limits though some households have smaller indoor units.

Oronoco will hold a public hearing at 7 p.m. Monday at city hall to consider an ordinance for outdoor wood boilers. In Oronoco, residents who want to install an outdoor boiler must get a permit from the Rochester-Olmsted Planning Department.

Chuck Willihnganz, a building inspector with the department, said he's not aware of any permits issued for outdoor boilers in Oronoco and few residential lots in the city could meet the manufacturer's setback standards, he said.

"They're supposed to be 100 feet away from a house, including your neighbor's house," Willihnganz said. "An exterior wood burner is not going to be an option for 90 percent of city lots because of the setback requirements."

Last year, the city of Eyota adopted an ordinance requiring outdoor boilers be located at least 500 feet from the nearest building on another property.

Tom Haley, one of the owners of Haley Comfort Systems which sells heating and cooling systems and fireplaces, said he believes communities should have ordinances regulating outdoor boilers to limit emissions of pollutants.

Complaints about the smoke from outdoor wood boilers usually stem from units that are inefficient, Haley said.

"That is bothersome, and that's what gives these things a bad name," he said. However, more efficient models are being manufactured to meet or exceed emission standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency. One of these cleaner-burning systems is manufactured by Greenwood Technologies LLC and sold by Haley Comfort Systems. The business has showrooms in Plainview, Rochester, Hastings and Forest Lake, Minn.

Banning the boilers would go too far and eliminate an affordable choice for consumers, he said.

"I don't think they should be able to just say, 'They're not allowed,' because people do need another option" to heat their homes if they can't afford natural gas and other fuels, Haley said.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

March 14, 2008 (editorial)

Wood-fired boilers a health hazard

The Daily Herald

Published: 3/14/2008 12:12 AM

October of 2004 we had to shut our home up because the resident living next door installed an outdoor wood-fired boiler.

You can not imagine what it is like to have smoldering smoke coming at you 24/7 throughout the heating season.

Free use of your property is out of the question. You have to hurry in and out while holding your breath.

Incidentally, we are 275 feet away from this unit. We have headaches, sore throats and general sense of poor health due the operation of this unit.

LaPorte County, Indiana now has registered over 120 of these units with more units coming. The state has over 8,000. The U.S. EPA has not seen fit to regulate these units as they have with fireplaces and wood stoves.

Thank the patio and barbecue folks for twisting arms in Washington. You might note that the U.S. EPA states in its literature that "numerous scientific studies report potentially serious adverse health effects from breathing smoke emitted by residential wood combustion. Residential wood smoke contains fine particles (PM2.5) which can affect both the lungs and heart."

Does a brick have to fall on someone's head for our elected leaders in Washington to step forward and regulate this issue? I will support and defend anyone who burns cleanly and efficiently.

Jim Donnelly

LaPorte, Ind.

 

Full Article: CLICK HERE

March 13, 2008

Zoning commission to work on ordinance

Would address outdoor wood boilers

by Melissa Cox
Staff Writer
Published: Thursday, March 13, 2008 6:09 AM CDT

NASHWAUK — The Nashwauk Zoning Commission was given the OK to move forward with developing an ordinance regarding outdoor wood boilers.

The Nashwauk City Council approved a motion, at its meeting Monday, to allow the zoning commission to further proceed with formulating an ordinance. It would address the issue of smoke getting into neighboring houses and air quality, according to Schuyler Mitchell, who serves on the commission.

The commission has been researching information from other communities regarding outdoor wood boilers and compiling information
to see what would best suit the city. An ordinance would come back to the council for approval.

Melissa Cox can be reached at melissa.cox@mx3.com. To read this story and comment on it online go to www.hibbingmn.com.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

March 13, 2008

Thursday, March 13, 2008
By LORI STABILE
lstabile@repub.com

PALMER - Board of Health members said on Tuesday night that only one owner of an outdoor wood burning boiler has applied for a permit, despite regulations adopted in the fall that stated all owners of the controversial structures must obtain one by Jan. 1.

Health board member Jayne G. Heede said all boiler owners are in violation and will receive a letter telling them to cease and desist operation and to dismantle their unit. She said the police will be serving the letters.

Why only one boiler owner has applied for a permit is unknown. One obstacle could be the cost associated with having properties surveyed to determine if they meet the regulations.

The lone person who has applied for a permit does not meet the regulations - Robert W. Ainsworth, who uses a wood burning boiler to heat his car wash on Thorndike Street. The board issued him a cease and desist order last week, and Ainsworth has requested a hearing.

In December, the board set a permit fee of $50, and announced the Jan. 1 deadline.

Heede expressed dismay that only one person, out of at least 15 boilers, applied for a permit. She said the board will not ignore this situation. Town Attorney Charles F. Ksieniewicz said anyone without a permit is in violation and must stop burning immediately. He said fines can run from $100 to $1,000 a day.

There was a question if the distance requirement in the regulations from a boiler to other homes is 500 or 700 feet because both 500 and 700 are stated. Ksieniewicz said he would go with 500 feet.

The regulations state that no permit shall be granted unless the site location of the proposed or existing boiler is owned by the applicant and contains at least four contiguous acres of land.

The board also held a hearing regarding a boiler at 23 Elizabeth St. in Thorndike owned by Joseph Sawicki, who was given a cease and desist order. He explained that he has a multi-fuel furnace and switched over to coal when told he couldn't burn wood.

Ksieniewicz said Sawicki is using a wood burning boiler and must apply for a permit, which wasn't done. Ksieniewicz said Sawicki must stop burning immediately and has 30 days to dismantle the unit.

Sawicki said he was told to keep burning on Dec. 10 by health board Chairman Paul E. Benard because it was his sole heat source. Benard was not at the meeting.

But Heede told him, "you've ignored the rules."

"I don't care if the pope told you to keep burning," she said later.

Health board member John J. Lukaskiewicz said he sympathizes with Sawicki because there were no outdoor wood boiler regulations when he built his home.

Terry Snyder, of 29 Elizabeth St., said she lives close to the boiler, and said the fact that it is still being used is a "flagrant disregard of the law." She said she has to wear a mask when working in the yard.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

March 11, 2008

Minerva sets rules for wood burners
Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Village Council took the first steps Tuesday to regulate outdoor wood-burning furnaces.

An ordinance setting up the guidelines followed Ohio Environmental Protection Agency regulations and was modeled after a similar ordinance in Orrville, Mayor James Waller said.

Outdoor furnaces must be 25 feet from a property line and at least 125 feet from any residential structure not served by the furnace. The chimney must be two feet higher than the peak of any structure within 300 feet.

Accepted fuels include natural untreated wood, wood pellets, corn products, biomass pellets or other materials permitted by the manufacturer, including fuel oil, natural gas or propane when used as a back up. Materials not permitted include coal, wood that has been painted or varnished, pressure-treated wood, rubbish and garbage, including food wastes, packaging and wraps, all plastic materials, rubber products and newspaper, cardboard or any paper with ink or dye products.

Violators could be fined $200 for the first offense and $200 per week as long as the violation continues.

JAN H. KENNEDY

Full Article: CLICK HERE

March 7, 2008

EPA extends wood-fired boiler deadline

Public can comment on new rules regarding emissions requirements

By Bob Downing
Beacon Journal staff writer

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has extended its public comment period on new rules for outdoor wood-fired boilers.

The deadline for comment on the proposed rules was extended to March 21 at the behest of state Rep. Stephen A. Dyer, D-Green.

Wood-fired boilers to heat homes have become more popular as fuel prices have increased, prompting environmental concerns because of heavy smoke and offensive odors.

Under the EPA's proposed rules, the burning season would be Sept. 13 through April 15.

Fuels would be limited to clean wood, home heating oil meeting sulfur requirements, natural gas as a starter and any clean-burning fuels with emissions lower than seasoned firewood.

Garbage, tires, yard waste, rubber or plastic, waste petroleum products, coal, construction and demolition debris, particle board, animal waste and asphalt products would not be permitted.

New outdoor wood-fired boilers would have to:

• Meet heat input limits calculated for residential and commercial-sized wood-fired boilers.

• Be placed at least 200 feet from the closest property line.

• Have a permanent stack at least 5 feet higher than the peak of any roof within 150 feet of the boiler.

Existing outdoor wood-fired boilers must have the same stack height as new ones 60 days after the rule becomes effective.

Deadlines

Existing furnaces located in a village or city that don't meet the rule's emissions requirements will be required to meet the new setback requirements or be removed or made inoperable by July 1, 2010.

That's the same deadline for existing furnaces to meet emissions requirements if the property is sold or transferred.

By July 1, 2015, all outdoor wood-fired boilers must meet emissions standards, regardless of the setback.

Existing furnaces outside villages and cities would have to be removed or made inoperable by July 1, 2015, if they don't meet emissions standards and setback requirements.

Copies of the draft rules and a fact sheet are available from the Ohio EPA's Division of Air Pollution Control at 614-644-2310, and at http://www.epa.state.oh.us/pic/outdoorwoodfiredboilers.html.

Written comments can be mailed to the division at P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, OH 43216.


Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or bdowning@thebeaconjournal.com.
 
Full Article: CLICK HERE

March 6, 2008

Supervisors consider outdoor furnace, weed control ordinances

By LINDSAY DAVIS — ldavis@lockhaven.com

HARRISLAND — Pine Creek Township supervisors may be jumping on the bandwagon soon, restricting outdoor furnaces just like many other municipalities in Clinton County.

The board Wednesday night considered an ordinance to regulate the alternative heat sources as well as an ordinance to control weed growth in the township.

Of the outdoor furnace ordinance, which supervisors will vote on at their April 9 meeting, supervisor Tom Wilt described it as “restrictive but not prohibitive.”

“The restrictions would be the same as for a burn barrel, essentially,” said Wilt.

The ordinance, as drafted by the township solicitor, would allow furnaces to be installed at least 200 feet from any property lot line, with a minimum chimney height of 20 feet.

Residents would be required to acquire a permit before installation. Only firewood, corn, coal and untreated lumber would be accepted fuel sources. The furnaces would be banned from May 15 to September 15, so they couldn’t be used to heat swimming pools.

“I think it’s something, with the price of oil, that we’re going to be seeing more of and I think we have to have to some sort of regulations. It’s not an option,” said Dennis Greenaway, chairman of the supervisors.

“Occasionally, (the smell of) wood smoke is a mildly romantic memory of back-when, but if I had to smell it 24/7, when the wind blew the wrong way...And then you get into issues if somebody puts out laundry, because we’ve dealt with that before with garbage burners.”

Township police officer David Winkleman said he counted seven such furnaces already installed within the township. The location of those existing furnaces would be “grandfathered” into the ordinance, but they would be required to burn only accepted fuel sources.

Perhaps more of a hot-button issue for township residents will be the proposed weed control ordinance, which will regulate the maximum height allowed for grass and weeds in certain areas of the township.

The ordinance, as drafted by the solicitor, would limit weeds to a maximum height of eight inches on all residential properties and vacant lots in residential areas, and a maximum height of 12 inches for non-residential properties. Agriculturally-zoned properties would be limited to 12 inches within 150 feet of developed land or 300 feet of any occupied structure.

The ordinance would not outlaw trees, brush, hedges, ornamental vegetative growth, native plant species grown for aesthetic purposes and plant growth used to offset soil loss. All wooded areas, state game lands, wetlands, cultivated fields and all storm water management areas maintained as natural areas would not be subject to the ordinance’s regulations, either.

All three supervisors expressed some misgivings over the numbers in the regulations — mainly that the maximum heights were not high enough. Residents present at the meeting disagreed, suggesting the heights should be lower.

Wilt said he didn’t agree with the agricultural zoning district regulations, but didn’t elaborate on his reasons. Supervisors also shared concern for how larger lots would be accommodated, indicating they would possibly favor guidelines like those for the agricultural zones for the larger lots as well.

“Our main concern would be that people maintain their home sites,” Wilt said.

“I’d like to see more specific zones. I’d like to have a minimum lot size, like half an acre or three-quarters of an acre,” Greenaway said.

“If I had to vote on this today, I’d vote no,” he added. “We have a very diverse township, where I’d like to have some kind of ordinance that offers some flexibility. It’s a matter of practicality.”

Supervisors agreed to have a work session dedicated exclusively to further considering the weed control ordinance, possibly to include a tour of some trouble spots in the township.

They set a tentative meeting for Wednesday, March 19, 2008 at 9 a.m.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

March 5, 2008

Viroqua City Council closes loophole for ‘outdoor’ furnaces

The Viroqua City Council amended its existing ordinance that bans the use of outdoor wood burners last week in order to close a potential loophole.

City attorney David Jenkins said there has been one wood burner installed in the city that may have been installed after the ban on the stoves was approved three years ago. Jenkins said the furnace was installed inside a building, so it is unclear if the ordinance applies since it was aimed at "outdoor" wood burners.

“One of the outdoor solid fuel burning devices has been enclosed in a building," said Jenkins. "Does that now make it an indoor device?"

Jenkins revised the ordinance, so that it pertains to the original intent of the manufacturer and presented those changes to the council on Tuesday, Feb. 26.

Alderman John Bjerke asked if a resident is required to get a permit to install a furnace. Mayor Larry Fanta said his understanding is that furnaces of any kind need a permit.

"They are playing with loopholes here," said Bjerke.

Local resident Tom Wilson said he would like to see the ordinance amended to allow the devices if they meet EPA guidelines for pollution.

"At least in concept, an outdoor furnace that would meet EPA solid fuel combustion burning criteria would probably be a better heating system than a system inside a house, where you are going to get all kinds of fire issues," said Wilson. "Is it that you want to get rid of all outdoor units or just these awful units?"

Alderman Gail Frie said the idea with the ordinance was to "ban the installation of these outdoor smudge pots... it looked like they were going to take over the town."

Frie said three outdoor wood burning units that had already been installed were grandfathered in and are still in operation.

The council approved the first reading of the ordinance by unanimous voice vote.

In other action, the council approved a change in the fire inspection code that gives the fire department more authority to hand out citations if someone does not make required changes to comply with the orders of a fire inspection.

Viroqua Fire Chief Steve Skrede said it is not uncommon to issue and order to make a repair or a change, only to find nothing has been done with the order the next time an inspection is done. Skrede said the change was needed to give the department more authority to enforce and order.

The change passed by a unanimous voice vote.

The council also tabled a measure to pursue legal action against a resident who is storing firewood in their front yard.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

March 5, 2008

Ogden considers moratorium on outdoor wood-burning boilers

By Mike Costanza, correspondent
Spencerport-Hilton Post

Ogden, N.Y. - Outdoor wood-burning boilers have sparked a controversy in Ogden.

The Town Board plans to hold a public hearing on a moratorium on the installation of the home-heating devices at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 12, at Ogden Town Hall, 269 Ogden Center Road.

“We already have six in our town, and we’re trying to find a way to not hurt the people who have them, but discourage people from putting them in,” said Ogden Supervisor Gay Lenhard.

Outdoor wood-burning boilers are free-standing heating units that consist of a firebox and a water reservoir. The devices usually stand close to the buildings they serve and are connected by water pipes and electrical lines. Wood is burned in order to heat water, which is piped to the nearby building to be used for heating, washing, or other purposes. Though someone regularly has to feed wood to the boiler, a control system banks or stokes the fire, regulating the water’s temperature. While boiler shapes and sizes vary, a common type looks much like a small storage shed with a stovepipe.
Ogden has received two complaints from town residents about the smoke from nearby boilers, Lenhard said.

“They’re highly noxious,” Lenhard said, adding she’s concerned about the potential health risks to those living near the outdoor boilers.

Unlike the wood stoves many have in their homes, the outdoor boilers aren’t regulated by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

A 2005 report by then-state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer’s office states that even when used properly, the boilers can emit “about twelve times as much particulate matter pollution as EPA-certified wood stoves.” According to the report, exposure to the smoke can lead to several types of physical problems, from eye irritation to heart disease and cancer.

The report suggested that the state Legislature pass regulations concerning the devices, although it has taken no action.

Ogden officials have talked to the state DEC about the problems with the outdoor boilers, without getting any action. Over a year ago, the town tried to regulate the boilers, but ran into opposition from owners.

Some local municipalities, including Fairport and Clifton Springs, have banned the boilers. Proponents assert they’re a cheap, environmentally friendly way to heat a home or business.

“From the rising cost of fossil fuels and what most people use to heat their house, this is an alternative, and from a reusable resource,” said Gary Van De Water, owner of Outdoor Accents, a Penfield outdoor and garden store that sells the outdoor boilers.

The boilers also have the advantage of being “carbon neutral,” in that wood burned in them or left to rot on the ground releases the same amount of carbon dioxide, Van De Water said. Problems arise only when owners burn the wrong type of material.

“People don’t use them properly and they’ll burn garbage in them,” Van De Water explained. “If you burn seasoned hardwoods in these things, you just don’t get any smoke out of them.”

That’s little comfort to Barbara Henry of Whittier Road. Henry first noticed the smoke when her neighbor fired up his boiler in January 2007. The boiler stands about 150 feet east of her home.

The fumes inflame Henry’s asthma, sometimes prompting an attack. “It just irritates my bronchials,” she said. “I get short of breath.”

Henry said she spoke to her neighbor about the problem, and that he installed taller stovepipes to conduct the smoke farther away. While it helped, she still suffers as a result.

“The smoke is so terrible, it just seeps in,” she explained.

Henry’s neighbor was unwilling to speak on record for this article.

Nowadays, when that outdoor boiler fires up, Henry usually stays inside with the doors and windows closed, whatever the season.

“There were days I could not go outside to take care of the birdfeeders, to weed in my garden,” she said.

Henry said she’s complained to Monroe County, the state Department of Environmental Conservation and town, without getting any action on the problem.

The combination of health and financial concerns leaves the Town Board in a quandary about the boilers.

“It’s been really difficult to come up with something that protects the health of the people who live by them and protects those who built them,” Lenhard said.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

March 5, 2008

Muncy mulls outdoor furnace use

By PATRICK DONLIN pdonlin@sungazette.com

MUNCY — Outdoor furnace use continues to be the burning issue in Muncy Borough.

With spring fast approaching, more warmth likely will come from the sun rather than fuel heaters by the time a decision is made, but most members of council voiced opinions on Tuesday.

Considering municipalities such as Lock Haven that are banning outdoor furnaces, Councilman Rodney Knier said, “I have a problem with these ordinances.” Newly produced backyard burners produce emissions as clean or cleaner than conventional furnaces, according to Knier.

“I just think an outright ban is, to me, ludicrous,” Knier said.

If the furnace is properly maintained and placed a generous distance from neighboring properties, such a form of alternative energy should be allowed, in Knier’s opinion.

Several years from now, the furnaces may not operate as clean as they do new, according to Councilman Galen Betzer.

Enforcement of what is and what isn’t a nuisance, such as smoke, is subjective to each person, he added.

Although there is nothing on the borough books about outdoor furnaces used for home heating, burn barrels — historically used to burn garbage — were banned years ago.

Betzer said he has yet to see an outdoor furnace that doesn’t emit irritating smoke.

Doing away with offensive odors was a primary purpose of the burn barrel ordinance when it was passed a few years ago, according to Councilman Dana Bertin.

Use of the outdoor furnaces can be considered, according to Councilwoman Karen Richards, but provisions have to be put into place.

Not wanting to see massive stockpiles of wood and coal in residential yards, Richards said, “We can’t just deal with piles of (it) in somebody’s yard.”

From what he’s seen published, resident Barron Zimmers said a variety of fuel options can be considered, including corn pellets, coal and wood.

Chimney height of the furnaces also has to be discussed to ensure they’re high enough to not blow smoke throughout the neighborhood. “I think that’s the biggest issue,” Richards said of the smokestacks.

Letting it be known she agrees with Knier on the issue, Council President Vivian Daily reminded that many families may feel the economic crunch of high heating costs and the affordability of outdoor furnaces may be explored by some.

Borough Solicitor Carl Barlett urged the council to continue to relay ideas to him.

Designed to protect the health and welfare of residents, the ordinance will strive to further regulate outdoor burning.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

March 2, 2008

Rockland looks at restricting outdoor wood furnaces again

Jane Lerner
The Journal News

RAMAPO - Two years after Rockland became one of the first municipalities in the state to regulate the use of outdoor wood furnaces, the county is considering changing the law to make sure the devices - and the pollution they emit - do not make their way into the area.

"The issue we are concerned with is the protection of air quality," said Rockland Commissioner of Health Dr. Joan Facelle.

In 2006, after months of debate, the Board of Health voted to change the county's sanitary code to ban the use of outdoor wood furnaces that have a firebox volume of 5 cubic feet or larger. Just about all models of the devices have a firebox larger than that.

The regulations also stated that the ban would be in effect until the state or federal governments provided more guidance on the issue.

At the most recent meeting of the Board of Health, county officials proposed changing the law to ban the furnaces even if government standards are issued.

"The industry is still promoting these as a viable option to save on fuel costs," Facelle said. "We maintain that this is not a viable option in Rockland county at this time."

The board will discuss the issue again at its March 19 meeting.

Outdoor wood furnaces, also known as outdoor wood boilers, consist of a small shed that contains an oversize box in which unsplit logs up to 5 feet long are burned. The burning wood heats water in a reservoir around the box. The heated water is pumped through insulated underground pipes to the home, where it circulates through the heating system.

Proponents maintain that the device is an economical heat source that should be available to people, especially as the price of heating oil soars. But opponents insist that the furnace gives off a tremendous amount of smoke that contributes to air pollution, especially in densely populated areas like Rockland.

New City resident Lawrence McGill wrote a letter to the board two years ago outlining his concerns.

He said Friday that he still feels Rockland is not the place for such devices.

"We have a neighbor who burns wood inside and we are inundated with smoke from time to time," McGill said. "I would be very much opposed to burning wood outside on a regular basis."

But Rodney Tollefson, vice president of Central Boiler, a Minnesota company that is a leading producer of outdoor wood furnaces, said that the devices produce little pollution and actually help the environment by reducing reliance on heating oil.

"There is no reason at all to ban them," he said. "It's an option that people should have."

It is unclear how many people in Rockland use wood furnaces. Several people who had wood stoves or similar devices argued before the board two years ago that they should be permitted under the sanitary code. Business owners also said they were interested in selling the devices, which have grown in popularity nationwide as the price of oil increases.

Since the regulation was added to the sanitary code nearly two years ago, no one has applied for an exemption from the rule, Facelle said.

A growing number of municipalities throughout the nation have taken steps to regulate the use of such outdoor wood furnaces as their use increases.

 Full Article: CLICK HERE

February 28, 2008

Officials: Crackdown on polluters possible

Editor's note: This is the second in a two-part series on pellet-burning stoves. Tuesday: An increase in home heating costs has fueled an interest in pellet-burning stove systems. Today: The increasing number of old-fashioned wood-fired boilers in use has led to an increase in complaints about dirty air. Health officials are considering a crackdown.

While many are turning to newer, cleaner wood-burning stoves, some are going back to old-fashioned outdoor wood-fired boilers that can sully the air and cause neighborly feuds. And that's got county officials considering a crackdown.

"This year we're hearing a lot more complaints," said Nick Oasen, environmental health technician with the Sauk County Public Health Department. "When we're having these overcast days, the pressure is pushing the smoke downward and it's going toward peoples' homes."

He said there's about 125 outdoor wood-burning stoves in the area including Sauk, Adams and Juneau counties. And he said they're not all burning wood.

"You hate to say it, but some people burn garbage or treated lumber," he said. "And those things cause even more of a problem."

In 2006, Wisconsin was ranked second in the nation, behind Michigan, with an estimated 27,000 outdoor wood-fired boilers, according to the state Department of Health and Family Services.

Health officials can measure particulate matter in the air near a wood stove. If they find high levels, they will try to resolve the matter by talking to the homeowner, Oasen said.

If that doesn't work, a citation can be issued. And public health officials say they will be stepping up enforcement efforts.

"In Sauk County, complaints from neighbors about smoke are on the rise, and we will be more aggressively pursing egregious cases," said Sauk County Public Health Director Michael Steinhauer.

Old wood stoves that aren't certified by the Environmental Protection Agency can release anywhere from 30 to 50 grams of fine particles into the atmosphere each hour, compared to the 2 to 7 grams per hour released by newer EPA-certified models, according to the EPA.

And that can cause health consequences for neighbors, Oasen said.

Baraboo resident Tom Tarrolly filed a complaint with the city in 2005 about an outdoor wood-burning furnace his neighbor used for heating water to heat the house. The polluted air from the furnace was causing problems for his asthmatic wife and daughter, according to city documents.

Complaints such as Tarrolly's led city officials to ban outdoor wood burners in 2006. But anyone who had one prior to January 2006 can get a permit from the city to use it.

If it becomes a nuisance for neighbors, the city can revoke the permit.

"Obviously, when you're in a setting such as a city, where the houses are close together, it's going to be more of a nuisance than it is out in the country, where the houses are further apart," said Baraboo Fire Chief Kevin Stieve.

Sauk County doesn't have outdoor wood furnace zoning rules, said Planning and Zoning Department Director Mark Steward.

"I know there's counties out there that do regulate (outdoor wood boilers)," he said. "They've resurfaced because of the cost of oil, natural gas and propane."

Steward said county officials plan to tighten restrictions on outdoor burning in some form, but he said he is unsure if it will be through zoning or public health regulations.

Steinhauer said homeowners should follow guidelines developed by the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association and the outdoor Furnace Manufacturers Caucus. Those guidelines include things such as making sure a smokestack is at least 2 feet higher than the peak of any home within 100 to 300 feet.

The Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services also has tips for outdoor wood boiler users available on its Web site at dhfs.wisconsin.gov.

For more information

Got a complaint or a question about outdoor wood boilers? Contact the Sauk County Public Health Department at (608) 355-3290.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

February 24, 2008

Dangers posed by fireplaces, wood-burning pizzerias bring warnings

By Ames Boykin

Published: 2/24/2008 12:26 AM

Crackling logs in the hearth offer a toasty reprieve during these brutal winter months.

People also tend to melt at the smell and taste of pizza baking in a woodfire.

But one suburban resident wants these fires to go cold in the name of good health.

Kenneth Dubinski of Elk Grove Village is leading a group seeking to prevent wood smoke from wafting through the air, pushing to ban what he calls the new secondhand smoke. He is working to galvanize support on the heels of a statewide tobacco smoking ban.

For Dubinski, this is familiar terrain: He actively railed against smoking on airplanes in the 1980s and fought for the smoking ban in public places which took effect last month.

Since his hometown of Elk Grove Village lifted the ban on outdoor wood burning in 2004, Dubinski has smelled something foul.

"The main thing is people are worried about secondhand smoke. That's what this is. I come home and get headaches," he said, blaming wood smoke from his neighbors.

Dubinski, who has been active in mobilizing a small yet determined group under the name Breathe Healthy Air, points to a dossier of research he has collected.

Wood smoke is a major contributor to particulate matter in the air and can be linked to increased risks of emergency room visits and hospitalizations for cardiopulmonary conditions and premature death, according to the American Lung Association.

Besides kicking up particulate matter, wood-smoke emissions contain carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, hydrochloric acid, formaldehyde and chemicals known or suspected to cause cancer, the association said.

Dubinski cites such evidence as he battles wood smoke. He also wants lawmakers to issue financial incentives for converting wood-burning fireplaces to natural gas. No state lawmakers have taken up the issue yet.

A ban is a hard sell to those Chicago-area residents who adore their fireplaces and wood stoves -- and many are fuming at the idea.

Bill Wilson, who runs Brix Wood Fired Pizza in Lombard, chuckled at the thought of banning the very thing that lures his customers.

"Everybody says, 'Man, that smells so good. I had to come in,' " Wilson said.

Besides, he said, it's part of our primal existence.

"If we didn't have wood burning, nobody would be here," Wilson said. "That's how the caveman lived. If he didn't have fire, he wouldn't eat."

Rick Vlahos, of McHenry, who works as senior manager of training for the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, loves his wood stove. He says he used it frequently when he lived in Palatine and Schaumburg.

About 20 years ago, federal environmental regulators began restricting wood stove emissions to create cleaner air. As a result, modern wood stoves belch a cleaner smoke, he said, recommending stoves built before 1988 be retired.

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency officials have no immediate plans to recommend the statewide ban or limitations that Dubinski and other wood-burning foes seek, said Jill Watson, state EPA spokeswoman.

The agency does acknowledge, however, that wood smoke contributes to air pollution.

Wood smoke has become more of an issue in the more mountainous Northeast region due to air inversions that trap the smoke. New Hampshire state lawmakers are looking at placing limits on outdoor wood furnaces, called wood boilers, by ensuring they are at least 50 feet from property lines.

Wood smoke has created similar concerns out West. In the San Francisco area, there's a proposed ban on burning wood on bad air days.

"In an environment like Chicago where there are no mountains, smoke just dissipates and goes away," said Vlahos of the barbecue association.

Opponents of wood smoke argue remnants of the acrid smoke hang in the air, aggravating people with asthma and other breathing problems.

There's been resistance locally to local wood smoke foes, one reason Dubinski's group is calling for action at the state level.

When Dubinski appealed to Elk Grove Village trustees to reinstate the ban on outdoor fireplaces, he received a resounding "no" from Mayor Craig Johnson.

That would infringe on people's property rights, Johnson said.

"There's probably more smoke put in the air by the California forest fires than would be from any fire pit in the country over 10 years," Johnson said.

Dubinski, however, said it becomes his business when it creeps into his personal space and causes him headaches.

One forum for the debate has been the letters columns of the Daily Herald, where Dubinski and his supporters regularly appear, sparking spirited replies from wood-burning fans.

Residential wood burning can be blamed for about a third of particulate pollution, federal environmental officials estimate.

So why should Dubinski see wood smoke as more of an environmental enemy than exhaust from trucks and cars, which appear to spew more pollution in the Chicago area than fireplaces?

Nationally, cars and trucks make up 21 percent of particulate pollution -- less than wood smoke, Dubinski said.

"I don't smell the diesel from (Route) 53," Dubinski said. "I smell the smoke from these guys wood burning."

How to cut wood smoke pollution

• Convert to gas. Rising natural gas prices have traditionally spurred people to turn to burning wood.

• Use a wood stove made after 1988. They use cleaner burning technology as a result of a federal clean air crackdown.

• Burn clean, dry, seasoned hardwood. Wet wood doesn't burn well and produces more smoke.

• Never burn painted or treated wood, trash or colored paper.

• Keep the stovepipe and chimney clean to prevent the buildup of creosote that can cause chimney fires and noxious emissions.

Source: American Lung Association, Daily Herald interviews

Particulate pollution

• Residential wood burning: 35%

• Other sources: 30%

• Cars and trucks: 21%

• Forest fires: 13%

• Other residential fuels: 1%

Source: EPA

Full Article: CLICK HERE

February 22, 2008

Manton looks to ban outdoor wood furnaces, boilers

By Kayla Kiley

MANTON - Smoggy air in parts of Manton has some residents looking for no-smoking signs.

Some people want to get rid of local outdoor wood furnaces and outdoor wood boilers.

According to city clerk Teresa Loving, some residents living near homes that use outdoor wood furnaces and boilers as a source of heat have complained to Manton’s planning board about the smoky air.

Since citizens brought their concerns to the board in August, outdoor wood furnaces and boilers have been a topic of discussion for the city. And in November, Manton City Commission introduced ordinance 2007-07, which would prohibit outdoor wood furnaces and boilers.

"The city of Manton is characterized by small-lot sizes (12,000 to 15,000 square feet or less), which outdoor wood furnace emissions can easily travel to nearby properties," said Loving in an e-mail response. "The city would like to eliminate/ minimize the nuisance or health effect of these emissions."

Loving pointed to two studies that show the harmful effects of outdoor wood furnaces and boilers.

The March 2007 study "Outdoor Wood Boiler & Air Quality Fact Sheet" by Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) states, "outdoor wood boilers can be a major problem because they emit a lot of air pollutants."

The MDEQ study also said outdoor wood furnaces and boilers generate "much more" particle pollution than indoor wood stoves.

The March 2006 "Assessment of Outdoor Wood-fired Boilers" prepared by Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, concluded that wood smoke emissions of particles and gases presented a health threat to persons living in proximity to outdoor wood-fired boilers.

While residents who use outdoor wood furnaces and boilers as their heating source are concerned with the city’s possible ban, Loving said most residents believe banning outdoor wood furnaces and boilers is a good move for the city safety in terms of health.

 

kkiley@cadillacnews.com | 775-NEWS (6397)

• What: Manton public hearing

• What will be discussed: The proposed city ordinance 2007-07, which would prohibit outdoor wood furnaces and boilers in Manton. The city will decide whether to pass the ordinance at the hearing.

• When: 7 p.m. March 10; this is a regular-scheduled city commission meeting

• Where: Manton VFW Post No. 7806, 603 State St.

• Copy of the ordinance: Available at the Manton City Offices, 206 W. Main.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

February 21, 2008 (video)

EPA Drafts Rules For Wood Boilers (News Video)

One year after a Target9 Investigation, the Ohio EPA has drafted a set of rules that regulates the use of outdoor wood boilers.Last February, NEWS9 talked to some local residents who complained the smoke the boilers gave off was causing them health problems.Other residents who owned the boilers told NEWS9 that the wood boilers were a safer form of heating and saved them a lot of money on their heating bills.NEWS9 has learned the Ohio EPA has drafted a set of rules concerning the boilers, and has opened the matter up for public comment.The new proposals include emissions standards, regulations on where the boilers can be placed, when they can be sold, and when they can be used.The EPA will be taking public comments on the boilers now through Friday, March 7.The EPA states in a press release that the public can send comments by mail to this address:Division of Air Pollution Control-Ohio EPA P.O. Box 1049 Columbus, Ohio 43216-1049

Full Article and Video: CLICK HERE

February 18, 2008

Ohio EPA proposes rules for furnaces

By Marc Kovac

Monday, February 18, 2008

Outdoor boilers have been popular due to increasing natural gas and fuel costs.

By MARC KOVAC

VINDICATOR CORRESPONDENT

COLUMBUS — New rules being considered by the state would regulate outdoor wood-fired furnaces, used by some residents to heat their homes or businesses.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is accepting public comments on the draft rules through March 7 and could move forward with a permanent version before next winter’s heating season.

“This is the direction we are proposing to take,” said Linda Fee Oros, a spokeswoman for the agency. “We are interested in knowing what the reaction is to that.”

Oros said Ohio EPA developed the rules after receiving increased inquiries and complaints from people living near the outdoor boilers, which have been popular, in part, due to increasing natural gas and fuel costs.

The boilers generally are placed outside of homes or buildings, with wood and other fuels added in bulk.

There are currently no rules in effect regulating their use in Ohio, Oros said.

Among restrictions outlined in the draft rules:

UResidents could use clean wood, wood pellets from clean wood, home heating oil that complies with sulfur content limits, natural gas (used as a starter) or any clean-burning fuel “with emissions lower than those created from burning seasoned firewood,” according to Ohio EPA.

“Fuels excluded would include burned garbage, tires, yard waste, material containing rubber or plastic, waste petroleum products, coal, construction and demolition debris material, particleboard, animal waste and asphalt products.”

U Such outdoor furnaces could be used Sept. 13-April 15 unless units are certified to meet emissions limits.

U Boilers would have to be placed at least 200 feet from the closest property line and have a permanent stack at least 5 feet higher than the peak of any roof within 150 feet.

The rules include other requirements for new and existing boilers located in cities and villages or in unincorporated areas. Manufacturers would be required to appropriately label units and inform buyers of use restrictions.

Copies of the rules are available on the Ohio EPA Web site (www.epa.state.oh.us) or by calling (614) 644-2310.

Written comments can be mailed to the Division of Air Pollution Control, Ohio EPA, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, OH 43216-1049.

mkovac@dixcom.com

Full Article: CLICK HERE

February 15, 2008

New rules under way for outside furnaces
Ohio EPA restrictions to cut smoke, odors

By John Higgins/ Akron Beacon Journal staff writer
Friday, Feb 15, 2008

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is proposing new rules to regulate outdoor wood-fired furnaces - popular
in recent years as fuel prices have increased.

Such furnaces burn wood to heat boilers and pipe the hot water through rooms to heat houses.

However, some furnaces have raised environmental concerns because of heavy smoke and offensive odors. Some
Ohio communities, including Cuyahoga Falls and Cleveland, have adopted zoning rules to keep them out; other
communities have imposed restrictions.

Now the Ohio EPA is proposing draft rules for new and existing heaters that would apply to manufacturers, suppliers,
distributors as well as anyone who installs, operates or owns them.

The Ohio EPA is accepting public comments on the proposed rules through March 7.

The general burning season would be Sept. 13 through April 15 and only clean wood, home heating oil meeting sulfur
requirements, natural gas as a starter and any clean-burning fuels with emissions lower than seasoned firewood
would be permitted. Garbage, tires, yard waste, rubber or plastic, waste petroleum products, coal, construction and
demolition debris, particle board, animal waste and asphalt products would not be permitted.

New outdoor wood-fired boilers would have to:

*Meet heat input limits calculated for residential and commercial-sized wood-fired boilers.

*Be placed at least 200 feet from the closest property line.

*Have a permanent stack at least five feet higher than the peak of any roof within 150 feet of the boiler.

Existing outdoor wood-fired boilers must have the same stack height as new ones 60 days after the rule becomes
effective.

Existing furnaces located in a village or city that don't meet the rule's emissions requirements will be required to
meet the new setback requirements or be removed or made inoperable by July 1, 2010.

That's the same deadline for existing furnaces to meet emissions requirements if the property is sold or transferred.

By July 1, 2015, all outdoor wood-fired boilers must meet emissions standards, regardless of the setback.

Existing furnaces outside villages and cities would have to be removed or made inoperable by July 1, 2015, if they
don't meet emissions standards and setback requirements.

Copies of the draft rules are available from the Ohio EPA's Division of Air Pollution Control. Call Carolina Prado at
614-644-2310.

Written comments can be mailed to the division at P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, 43216-1049 and must be received by
March 7.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
John Higgins can be reached at 330-996-3792, 800-777-7232 or jhiggins@thebeaconjournal.com.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

February 14, 2008 (Press Release)



Ohio EPA Issues Draft Rules to Regulate Outdoor Wood-Fired Boilers

 

In response to a growing demand for outdoor wood-fired boilers and increasing complaints from neighbors who live near them, Ohio EPA has drafted rules to ensure that these boilers are operated in a way that minimizes smoky particle emissions. Public comments are encouraged through March 7 on the draft rules.

Outdoor wood-fired boilers are residential furnaces designed to heat an entire home and in many cases replace multiple indoor wood stoves. They are bulk-loaded with wood that is burned; the resulting heat is transferred through a firebox surface to a surrounding water reservoir. The water is then piped through rooms for heat. The amount of usable heat depends on the quantity of wood burned.

U.S. EPA is relying on state and local regulation and voluntary measures to control these boiler emissions. Ohio EPA's draft rules would apply to manufacturers, suppliers, distributors or others intending to sell, lease, distribute or market an outdoor wood-fired boiler, and those who install, operate or own them. The new draft rules would set up operating requirements that include acceptable fuels to be burned, boiler performance standards and use requirements.

Fuels allowed would include clean wood, wood pellets from clean wood, home heating oil in compliance with sulfur content limits, natural gas used as a starter, or any clean-burning fuel with emissions lower than those created from burning seasoned firewood. Fuels excluded would include burned garbage, tires, yard waste, material containing rubber or plastic, waste petroleum products, coal, construction and demolition debris material, particle board, animal waste and asphalt products.

Use would be acceptable only from September 13 until April 15 for all outdoor wood-fired boilers unless a unit could be certified to meet the required emissions limits.

New Boilers
For new outdoor wood boilers, the draft rule would set end dates for when a new outdoor wood-fired boiler could be distributed, sold, leased, marketed, installed, operated, or owned in Ohio, unless the unit is certified to meet the emissions standards. New units also would have to:
  • meet limits for heat input calculated for residential and commercial-sized wood-fired boilers;
  • be placed at least 200 feet from the closest property line; and
  • have a permanent stack at least five feet higher than the peak of any roof within 150 feet of the boiler.
    Existing Boilers
    For existing outdoor wood boilers, the same requirements for stack height would apply starting 60 days after the rule becomes effective. Additional requirements would apply based on whether existing units are located in a restricted or unrestricted area.

    In restricted areas (generally inside cities and villages):

    • If an outdoor wood-fired boiler did not meet the rule's emissions requirements, it would be required to meet the setback
    • requirements in the draft rule or be removed or made inoperable by July 1, 2010.
    • By July 1, 2015, all outdoor wood-fired boilers would need to meet the emissions standard, regardless of setback distance.
    • When property is sold or transferred, existing or installed units would need to meet emissions requirements on or after July 1, 2010, or be removed.

    In unrestricted areas (generally outside cities and villages):

    • If a unit does not meet the emissions standards, and doesn't meet the setback requirements, it would be required to be
    • removed or made inoperable by July 1, 2015.

    Manufacturers of outdoor wood-fired boilers would be required to provide information about Ohio's rules on the labels they put on products sold in Ohio. Temporary labels would be required on units that also would include the draft rule information. All units sold or leased in Ohio would need to include an owner's manual describing proper operating procedures to reduce particle emissions.

    In addition, suppliers would be required to provide buyers with a notice describing restrictions associated with operation of an outdoor wood-fired boiler.

    Copies of the draft rules are available from Ohio EPA's Division of Air Pollution Control, and can be requested by calling Carolina Prado at (614) 644-2310. Written comments can be mailed to the Division of Air Pollution Control, Ohio EPA, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, Ohio 43216-1049. All comments must be received by Friday, March 7, 2008. Ohio EPA will consider all comments before it formally proposes the rule changes. When the rules are formally proposed, Ohio EPA will hold a public hearing and offer another public comment period before any rules are adopted.

    - 30 -

    Full Link: CLICK HERE

  • February 11, 2008

    OWB Ordinance Effectiveness Debated
    Residents, county officials differ on how well it’s working.

    Laurie Wink
    The News-Dispatch

    Monday, February 11, 2008

    LA PORTE - The effectiveness of a county ordinance governing outdoor wood boilers, which took effect Nov. 21, is getting mixed reviews.

    County Commissioners approved an ordinance in 2007 specifying how OWB units should be installed, operated and maintained.

    Owners must provide a copy of the manufacturer's specifications to verify compliance. The ordinance prohibits use of OWBs between May 15 and Sept. 15, and all units must be placed at least 25 feet from the property line. The ordinance also covers chimney height and the type of wood used. Only seasoned, dry wood without paint, varnish or other treatments can be used. Violation can result in a $750 fine.

    Tony Mancuso, La Porte County Health Department environmental supervisor, said no fines have been issued, and only three complaints have been received. As a result of the ordinance, 120 owners have registered OWBs, a number that surprised Mancuso.

    "I didn't know there were that many out there," he said. "I thought there might be about 50. It's a good idea to have the ordinance and to know where they're at."

    Allan and Debbie Bottorff, 9796 S. County Road 225 West, say they suffer from the effects of an OWB when wind blows from the south. Allan Bottorff said he gets nauseous from the smoke and Debbie Bottorff, an asthmatic, has to wear a respirator.

    The ordinance makes it easier for the Bottorffs to go outside four months of the year, but the other eight months can be problematic. Allan Bottorff said even though he has installed air purifiers, they don't eliminate the problem.

    The Bottorffs filed a complaint against OWB owner Henry Pacione. Allan said that, one day, they were suffering from OWB emissions while Pacione was burning stacks of painted wood.

    Patty Nocek of the La Porte County Health Department responded, Allan Bottorff said, telling Pacione to stop burning the painted wood. Pacione told The News-Dispatch he removes the wood crates from the company he works for, and only the ends are "spray painted very lightly."

    He said he will remove the ends before using the rest of the wood.

    Pacione was not fined.

    Health Department Director Paul Trost said his department doesn't have the authority to issue a ticket, and fines only can be levied by a court.

    "I think we came up with a pretty good ordinance. If we get a complaint, we would address it very diligently, to make sure we're doing things properly," Trost said.

    The Bottorffs purchased their house seven years ago and didn't notice any OWB smoke when they visited before moving in. They can't afford to relocate.

    "If you're here for 24 hours, of course you find out how it really is," he said. "My wife had asthma before, but this just aggravates it."

    Smoke density, called opacity, is a primary concern for people living near an OWB. Nocek has been trained to take opacity readings, and based on the new ordinance, an operating OWB must meet opacity requirements of 20 percent of less.

    Phil Coil is skeptical that "opacity readings" have any significance.

    "They throw a big word at you, but I'm not sure they're even measuring anything," he said.

    Coil and his wife, Marguerite, live at 3275 N. Wozniak Road near an OWB owner they say seems to have found a loophole in the county ordinance.

    A nearby neighbor had an outdoor wood burner but no longer uses it. Instead, he installed a new Blue Forge gasification outdoor wood furnace inside a pole barn, making it an indoor wood burner. County officials say the ordinance doesn't apply in this case.

    The Coils said the new unit burns hotter and the smell is less noticeable than the one outdoors, but the smell is not their only concern.

    "It is still sending out particulate matter that can travel miles and miles," Marguerite Coil said. "No one seems to know anything about whether it's a health hazard."

    The Coils asked Commissioners President Bill Hager to check out the indoor wood burner, but said he never did.

    Hager said the ordinance is working just fine and doesn't need any changes.

    The Coils disagree. They said five homeowners in their area have been bothered by the nearby OWB, and one has already moved for the health of a daughter with asthma.

    "What's the difference if it bothers one or 10 people?" Phil Coil said.

    County Building Commissioner Ray Hamilton said his office is responsible for registering new OWBs, but very few have been submitted. Hamilton said the ordinance took effect at a time of year when the units already would have been installed.

    It remains to be seen whether more will be registered this spring and summer, Hamilton said. A permit for new construction costs $50 and must be obtained before installation.

    Marguerite Coil says she continues to be frustrated by the ordinance.

    "They try to ban smoking so we're not smelling secondhand smoke," she said, "but it's OK to smell this."

    Contact Laurie Wink at lwink@thenewsdispatch.com.

    Full Article: CLICK HERE

    February 7, 2008

    Police Log

    Kennebec Journal Morning Sentinel (Maine)

    2/7/08 

    IN NEWPORT, Tuesday, at 6:20 p.m., there was a report of smoke in the area of Cove-Side Wheel & Ski on Moosehead Trail. Emergency workers determined the smoke was produced by an outdoor wood boiler.

    Full Article:  CLICK HERE

    February 5, 2008

    New Ashford considers boiler vote

    Tuesday, February 5
    NEW ASHFORD — Voters may have to decide the fate of exterior wood-burning boilers at the annual town meeting.

    Chairman Kevin Flicker told the Selectmen during the board's previous meeting that he would begin researching how such a bylaw would take shape and would report back with more information soon.

    At Monday's meeting, Flicker said he has been concerned that the nature of New Ashford's topography, which includes narrow valleys, might trap smoke and exacerbate the health concern for some residents during certain times of the year.

    National trends show more and more Americans are investing in heating systems that don't rely on electricity or gas because of the energy costs. Consequently, more towns have begun to regulate furnaces that emit smoke.

    He said New Ashford's bylaw would likely have similar elements to Egremont's bylaw, which that town enacted in February 2007.

    Egremont's bylaw indicates that the Board of Health had deemed the boilers potentially hazardous. The bylaw states, "Outdoor wood-burning boilers have been shown, because of their design, to emit significantly high quantities of particulate matter and other noxious fumes."

    Flicker said he would likely draw up a bylaw that is somewhat different from Egremont's, where the owners of wood-burning boilers need to apply for a permit from the Board of Health, which includes a fee. The owners must make sure boilers meet 10 other regulations, including ample smokestack height and space between the boiler and surrounding structures. Maximum fines for violating the bylaw can reach up to $250 per day.

    Flicker emphasized that he would not want to encroach on a resident's home heating choices, he simply wanted to help ensure the health safety of all townspeople.

    In other business, the board continued its discussion on replacing the roof of the town hall, which is leaking and contains asbestos shingles. The project has not yet been put out to bid for a contractor, but Building Inspector Vincent Lively said he would oversee the project once it is underway, at an hourly rate of $25 per hour.

    As a temporary solution to a snow removal concern regarding the area around town's recycling containers, the Selectmen voted during its previous meeting to approve paying Peter Rancourt $20 for each time he clears the bins. The board had also discussed moving the bins to a different location in the future to allow for easier maintenance.

    The next Selectmen's meeting was moved to Tuesday, Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. in the town hall.

    Full Article: CLICK HERE

    February 5, 2008

    Wood-burner law try goes up in smoke

    BY JESSICA DURKIN

    STAFF WRITER

    JEFFERSON TWP. — The push for a municipal law addressing outdoor wood-burning units continues to meet strong resistance from supervisors and a majority of residents.

    The regular monthly supervisors meeting Monday was the battleground for the second time in three months as many unit owners voiced opposition to any ordinance curbing their use, while ordinance supporters called on township officials to consider the air quality of people living near them.

    Those wanting an ordinance say the emissions need to be controlled and want supervisors to implement burn times, such as restricting use in the warm months, and create minimum acreage requirements around the outdoor units. 

    Officials considered passing a liberal ordinance last year, but have since rejected the idea. They say such ordinances are unfair and difficult to enforce. 

    Supervisor chairman Lester “Ike” Butler presented a list of “myths and facts” on outdoor wood-burning units, a list prepared by Central Boiler, one of the largest manufacturers of outdoor wood-burning units in the country.

    Mr. Butler has maintained the township is still mostly rural, mostly against regulation, and the issue locally is neighbor against neighbor — specifically isolated to Line Road residents Lisa Cummings and Ed Kuniegal.

     
    “The majority always rules in government,” Mr. Butler said after the meeting. “The majority of voters always win the election.”

    There are approximately 30 outdoor wood-burning units in the township, and those who want some regulation say if left unchecked, future outdoor unit installations will continue to be a problem as the township grows.
     

    “I think as a township who’s inviting people in, I think they have a right to expect that we as a township, that we make sure the air they breath is going to be clean,” resident Pat Cummings said. 

    Mr. Butler said deed restrictions have been put into some of the new suburban subdivisions being built in the township.

    Dennis Shaffer owns an outdoor unit and he said he relies on it for affordability. The unit heats his home and water, and he would like some day to give an acre of his land to his son. Mr. Shaffer fears any ordinance now will restrict future opportunities to use the units.

     “What happens in 15 years, and my son’s old enough and we can’t do the same (for him) when it’s economical?” Mr. Shaffer said.

    Contact the writer: jdurkin@timesshamrock.com

    Full Article: CLICK HERE

    February 3, 2008

     Number of Homes Using Wood-Fired Boilers and Wood Stoves Rises

    FOR three decades, Robin Norton of Bethany, Conn., heated her 2,000-square-foot home the way many people do: by burning oil. In 2004, though, fed up with the $1,200 annual bill, Ms. Norton, an emergency medical technician, switched to a wood-fired boiler.

    Tucked into a shed in her nearly four-acre backyard, the dishwasher-size unit sends hot water through pipes into her house, where it is converted to enough hot air in winter that she keeps the thermostat set at 74 degrees. But the system can also warm a pool “so my grandkids can swim in April,” she said.

    The Nortons are part of a small but growing number of families who use wood-fired boilers and wood stoves to heat their homes; sales are up 20 percent a year for the last four seasons, vendors in the metropolitan area say.

    Sales have risen despite environmental concerns. Wood-fired boilers can generate thick smoke round the clock throughout the year, and some municipalities have restricted their use.

    Ms. Norton did suffer a few pangs of guilt when she bought her boiler, although not for environmental reasons; her husband, Chip, works for a heating-oil company. They were quickly eased by their oil bill last year: $7. And that was pricier than the wood, which loggers give them free.

    “We would be freezing otherwise, now that oil costs over $3 a gallon,” she said.

    New York’s state average as of Jan. 21 was $3.48 a gallon, about 40 percent higher than the mid-January rate of $2.48 last year, according to the Energy Information Administration, a division of the federal Department of Energy.

    For homeowners looking for alternate fuel sources, wood is gradually becoming more popular, according to census data. Wood is winning out over oil, propane and natural gas, vendors of wood stoves say, whether the new units are traditional log-burning kinds or the more environmentally friendly versions that use sawdust pellets.

    Wood stoves and boilers are often used in conjunction with oil furnaces and tend to be found in rural areas, census records show. These areas have more single-family homes than apartments; boilers need yards, while stoves can require special chimneys.

    In Hudson County, N.J., and Nassau County, N.Y., for example, boilers are practically nonexistent, American Community Survey census records show.

    But from 2003 to 2006, more homes in Fairfield County, Conn., and Westchester, Orange and Putnam Counties in New York used wood for heating, while in New Jersey, Bergen, Essex, Middlesex, Morris, Passaic and Union Counties saw upticks. Those areas totaled about 7,500 wood-heated homes in 2006, the data show.

    Wood-burning homeowners say the savings are considerable once they pay off the equipment, which can cost $3,000 to $5,000 for a new stove or boiler, and a few thousand dollars for installation. The cost of a month’s supply of wood can run a quarter of that of oil, the difference between $200 and $800, and even less if a homeowner cuts or collects the wood.

    Plus, in a time of collective guilt about energy consumption, wood may have an old-fashioned feel-good quality about it.

    But critics say wood smoke contains potentially hazardous grit, which is practically invisible yet can damage lungs if inhaled.

    Although cars and power plants also generate these harmful particles, wood smoke in Connecticut in winter accounts for up to 38 percent of the particles, said Alison Simcox, who studies the state’s air quality for the Environmental Protection Agency.

    One wood boiler can produce the emissions of 205 oil furnaces and 20 indoor wood stoves, according to a 2006 report from the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management, a 40-year-old independent group.

    “Many people do not grasp the pollution potential of this source, and I feel like a killjoy when I talk to them about it,” Ms. Simcox said. “But southwestern Connecticut is getting blanketed by wood smoke, and it’s significant.”

    This pollution is particularly dangerous in winter, when cold weather traps smoke in valleys, said Peter Babich, a state environmental analyst with the E.P.A.

    “And fuel prices aren’t getting cheaper, so it will continue to be more of an issue,” he said.

    Since 1988, the agency has imposed emissions standards on indoor stoves to cut down on particles, though wood boilers have been tougher to regulate.

    In 2005, the Connecticut Legislature’s effort to ban them was shot down under aggressive lobbying by the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association, a Virginia-based trade group representing manufacturers, local legislative and industry officials said. But the legislative effort did result in new rules, including that boilers must be 200 feet from neighbors’ houses and that no painted wood can be burned.

    Suffolk County on Long Island passed a law in 2006 that restricts boilers’ use to colder months, and not near hospitals and schools, until the beginning of 2010, when they will be banned outright except for natural disasters.

    All told, 62 counties, towns or villages in New York have banned or restricted wood-fired boilers. Most are upstate, though the list includes Warwick in Orange County and all of Rockland County; Rockland will adopt whatever regulation is passed by the State Department of Environmental Conservation, which is “reviewing proposals now,” said Yancey Roy, a spokesman.

    No New Jersey towns have restricted or banned wood-fired boilers, and no proposals are before the Legislature, said Darlene Yuhas, a Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman.

    For their part, boiler-makers agreed last year to tighten standards; many boilers will now emit no more than 0.60 pounds of particles per million BTUs of heat, down from about 1.2 pounds, said Lisa Rector, a senior policy analyst with the Northeast air-use management group.

    In the meantime, smoke will continue to pour from heating units fueled by wood, whether it comes from outside the house or within, as at the 4,000-square-foot home of Jim Pasquale, a software executive in Warwick.

    He has used a wood stove since 1993 in conjunction with an oil furnace. A more-efficient stove, bought in December, however, has allowed him to sharply scale back oil use, he said, from 12 gallons a day to 5 ½, for a monthly savings of roughly $570.

    “I’m reducing my dependency on fossil fuel,” Mr. Pasquale said, “by getting back to basics.”

    Full Article: CLICK HERE

    February 2, 2008

    Gorham poised to adopt outdoor furnace law

    By Michele E. Cutri-Bynoe, staff correspondent
    Daily Messenger
    Gorham, N.Y. -

    The Town Board is ready to pass a law that would permit outdoor wood-burning furnaces as long as they are outside the hamlet, away from the lakefront and in compliance with other conditions.


    “We’re not banning them,” said Zoning Officer Gordy Freida. “They will be allowed in the agricultural district and the rural residential district.”


    Many towns have passed regulations on outdoor furnaces, and some communities have banned them entirely as they tend to smolder, releasing smoke, a problem in more populated areas.


    If the law passes at the Feb. 13 meeting, anyone who wants to install an outdoor wood furnace in Gorham would have to apply to the building inspector and submit a sketch showing all properties and boundaries within 250 feet of the proposed furnace.

    Furnaces would have to be a minimum of 250 feet from all residences not served by it. The chimney would have to be at least 15 feet tall or at least two feet above the peak of any neighboring residence within 250 feet.


    The first public hearing on the proposed law brought out one resident. Tom Whipple of County Road 1 was pleased that Gorham’s leaders are not considering a total ban.


    “This is refreshing to look at,” he said as he glanced over a draft copy earlier this month.

     
    The Town Board made some minor changes at the suggestion of the Ontario County Planning Board, then voted 4 to 0 (with Councilman William Glitch absent) to adopt the changes. This means another hearing is required. It’s set for Wednesday, Feb. 13 at 7:30 p.m. at the Town Hall, 4736 South St. in the hamlet.

    Full Article: CLICK HERE

    February 2, 2008

    Coming Soon: More Efficient, Cleaner Outdoor Wood Boilers

    By John Gulland

    Outdoor wood boilers are a popular heating solution in some rural areas, but they’re also controversial. While the boilers are fueled by renewable resources if the wood is sustainably harvested, current designs are woefully inefficient and polluting.

    What exactly is an outdoor wood boiler? Also called an outdoor furnace, water stove or outdoor hydronic heater, it looks like a metal-clad shed with a short chimney poking from the roof. It’s basically a large firebox surrounded by a water jacket. Two insulated pipes run underground to the building it heats. One pipe delivers the heated water for space heating and domestic hot water, and the other returns the cooled water to the boiler for reheating. A single boiler also can heat a second building, such as a workshop.

    Unlike other heating equipment, outdoor wood boilers have been virtually unregulated. Unfortunately, they emit at least 20 times more smoke than EPA-certified woodstoves, according to the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management.

    In a 2005 report, the New York state Environmental Protection Bureau found that wood boilers’ efficiencies range from 28 percent to 55 percent, with an average of 43 percent. The report compared those numbers to efficiencies for EPA-certified woodstoves, which are typically 68 percent to 72 percent.

    In response to the smoke pollution problem, the major outdoor wood boiler manufacturers, along with state environmental regulators, helped to write a smoke emissions test standard for outdoor boilers under the auspices of the American Society for Testing and Materials. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has adopted similar testing standards and a program which includes emissions guidelines. While the EPA program is voluntary, some states will require all outdoor boilers to meet these new guidelines, or similar standards set by individual states. Vermont, for example, has already adopted their own.

    New wood boilers that meet the updated guidelines are already in various stages of development, and if everything goes well, a number of cleaner outdoor wood boilers could be on the market as early as next summer.

    Full Article: CLICK HERE

    January 31, 2008

    Outdoor Furnace Ignites Concern 

    By: Jeremy Rosen East Bay Newspapers, East Bay, RI 

    When 51 Union St. resident Sebastian Wordell started using his outdoor wood boiler (OWB) early this winter, he thought he had come up with a cheap, safe alternative to gas to heat his 5,000-square-foot, 15-room home in Bristol's historic district. He thought the boiler was a win-win, but not all his neighbors see it that way.

    Mr. Wordell said he received approval for the furnace from the Historic District Commission, the town's fire chief and his neighbors. Now, though, two of his cross-street neighbors have raised concerns about the boiler's potential health risks, and want him to get rid of it. The neighbors took issue with the device at the Wednesday, Jan. 23 Bristol Town Council meeting.

    "I'm not going to argue with my neighbors," Mr. Wordell said. "About 98 percent don't have a problem with what I'm doing, but a couple just have different opinions."

    Ms. Martin said her main goal is to have OWBs regulated by the Town of Bristol. She believes the devices carry very real health risks (see side story).

    "It's not up to me, but these things can cause serious health issues in small neighborhoods. It is a nationwide problem that more and more towns have to deal with."

    Changes

    On Jan. 23, Mr. Wordell was issued a violation from town solicitor Mike Ursillo, because his OWB is two feet closer to his neighbor's property line than the 10-foot buffer required by town ordinance. Since then, Mr. Wordell moved his OWB four feet further away from neighbor's property line.

    In a further effort to satisfy Ms. Martin and Ms. Gilroy, Mr. Wordell recently raised his OWB's chimney from 16 to 20 feet, bought and mounted an "air inducer" which cuts the boiler's run time in half, and started burning hard, seasoned wood instead of the smoky willow wood he was burning before the Jan. 23 meeting.

    Ms. Martin said she is aware of Mr. Wordell's efforts and permits, but she still has her concerns.

    Legislation?

    The most serious are the potential negative effects of billowing smoke that could hurt nearby residents (see side story). At the council meeting, Ms. Martin said she found research that said smoke from one OWB emits as much fine particle pollution as 45 cars or 1,800 homes with natural gas heat.

    According to a 2005 report out of New York State's attorney general's office, OWB's give off about 12 times as much fine particle pollution as EPA-certified wood stoves, 1,000 times more than oil furnaces and 1,800 times more than gas furnaces.

    At a meeting of regional lawmakers held Saturday to discuss upcoming issues in Bristol, town officials asked legislators to look into establishing regulations for such outdoor wood-burning furnaces. Legislators in New York, New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont are currently working on similar legislation.

    Legislators, led by Rep. Douglas Gablinske, said they will talk to officials at the state Department of Environmental Management (DEM) about the furnaces, as "we don't have the technical expertise. They do."

    Early this week Rep. Gablinski said he was working to pull the parties together, including Ms. Martin and Ms. Gilroy, and set up a meeting with Rep. Jan Malik, who is now the chairman of the House Energy and Environment Committee.

    "We want to get a better understanding of what's going on, because it seems so technical," Rep. Gablinski said. "We'll have some people at the DEM better explain the situation and the real issues."

    Happy with furnace

    Mr. Wordell said his top-notch OWB is safer, cleaner and more efficiant than having indoor wood stoves. It works by heating water and then cycling it inside the house.

    "It was trial and error when I first started using it. I'm learning as I go," he said.

    While he is learning, Mr. Wordell is saving significant money heating his large home, which has 11-foot ceilings and 9-foot tall windows. He figures the savings at about $700 a month.

    "My wife can finally be warm this winter without complaining to me about the heating bill," he said.

    What are Outdoor Wood Boilers?

    Outdoor Wood Boilers (OWBs) are outdoor furnaces about the size of a small shed that thousands of homeowners nationwide have turned to since the 1980s as a source of alternative heating energy. They are essentially large wood stoves with water jackets around them. Wood or wood pellets burned in OWBs preheat the water and send it to the home's indoor hot water heater through pipes leading to the basement, which in turn heats the home's furnace, fueling its heating system. In modern models, like Union Street resident Sebastian Wordell's, wood burning can be controlled to stop when the home's temperature reaches the desired level.

    Furnaces not cheap

    Installing an Outdoor Wood Boiler (OWB) is not a small investment. Union Street resident Sebastian Wordell, the first person in Bristol to own one, said his top-of-the-line furnace, which he bought from a dealer in Raynham, Mass. in August 2006 and started using this winter, cost $12,000 plus the time it took him to install the system on his own. He also has to monitor the furnace daily, and re-fuels it every five hours. He expects his furnace will run until the end of February. Mr. Wordell's monthly heating costs so far this winter:

    * $400 for hardwood

    * $69 gas heat bill, a far cry from the $800 to $1,000 per month he spent on gas during the 2006-07 winter, before he put the furnace online.

    Standards proposed for April

    The Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM), a group of eight air-quality agencies, created a "model rule" to assist state and local governments and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in developing legislative standards for Outdoor Wood Boilers (OWBs). Included in NESCAUM's 19-page report, which suggests certain standards to start April 1, 2008, are the following:

    * OWBs should be at least 500 feet from a property line and, starting April 1, 2010, 300 feet from a property line.

    * The OWB's chimney height must permanently be five feet higher than the peak of any roof structure located within 150 feet of the heater.

    * Among the permitted fuels are clean wood, wood pellets made from clean wood and as starter fuels, home heating oil or natural gas with appropriate sulfur content.

    * No one can supply, distribute, sell or lease an OWB without a state, town or agency-issued certificate demonstrating compliance with emission standards, which would be valid for five years unless revoked.

    * To find NESCAUM's complete report or more information on OWBs, visit the EPA's website at www.epa.gov.

    EPA says boilers can pollute

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's website says many Outdoor Wood Boilers (OWBs) produce smoke that contains potentially harmful gasses and particles. Here's what the EPA says inhalation of these fumes can do:

    * Cause heart and lung problems

    * Aggravate existing diseases, such as coronary artery disease, heart disease and asthma

    * Emit sulfur oxides, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and other cancer-causing compounds.

    As for now, the EPA said OWBs with official EPA orange tags are "cleaner and pollute less than other models."

    By Jeremy Rosen

    jrosen@eastbaynewspapers.com

    Full Article: CLICK HERE

    February 2, 2008

    Winter finally here?

    By Wiley Hendrix
    and Wire Reports (Missouri)

    A portion of the roof off the Oak's Motel in Forsyth was blown off by high winds on Tuesday. Along with the roof, firefighters from the Western Taney County Fire Protection District and the Forsyth Fire Department were also busy on Tuesday — battling fires caused by the wind, including a natural cover fire caused by downed power lines and one that destroyed a storage building when wind driven embers from an outdoor wood burning furnace ignited the structure. National Weather Service forecasters are predicting more winter weather for Southwest Missouri as a storm may drop several inches of snow on the Tri-lakes Area. 

    Full Article: CLICK HERE

    January 31, 2008

    Burners not to be used again (Canada)

    By Martha Wickett - January 30, 2008

    The issue of wood smoke emanating from outdoor wood boilers at Mayfair Farms has apparently become a non-issue.

    Digby Horne, medical health officer for the Thompson-Cariboo-Shuswap region of Interior Health, reports that the owner of the wood burners will not be using them anymore.

    “The owner has decided he’s not going to heat using wood boilers. He’s going to switch back to natural gas,” Horne told the Observer Monday.

    Don McCarthy, owner of the property in the 2200 block of 20th Avenue SE, where Mayfair Farms leases the greenhouses that were being heated by the burners, could not be reached for comment.

    Last May, the burner became an issue when the fire department received more than 20 complaints about excessive smoke during a two-week period. Complaints also flowed in to city council.

    Although the burner had been running steadily from February to April, the complaints began piling up once the warmer spring temperatures meant the burner was shut off during the day. Thick smoke was produced and sometimes trapped over the Hillcrest neighbourhood when the burner was re-started in the evenings.

    At that time, Gene Bailey, owner of Mayfair Farms, told the Observer the farm had decided to use the wood burner because the cost of natural gas was skyrocketing. He also said natural gas is worse than wood in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. Bailey also noted the property is within the Agricultural Land Reserve and the farm is simply trying to make a living.

    In an attempt to prevent further clashes between outdoor wood burners and residents, Salmon Arm council passed a wood-burning appliance and air quality bylaw.

    McCarthy objected to the bylaw, saying he could have made alternative suggestions had city staff consulted him beforehand. He also told council of improvements he had made to the burner to reduce smoke.

    The bylaw allows existing burners to keep operating as long as they meet standards for emissions, but bans any new outdoor wood burners. The bylaw doesn’t affect indoor wood-burning appliances, but new indoor installations must meet Canadian or U.S. standards.

    The provincial Ministry of Environment became involved, making suggestions for improvements and, in early fall, testing the air quality to determine if the burners were creating pollution. At the same time, a petition was circulated in the neighbourhood from people adversely affected by the smoke, demanding a ban on the burners.

    Along with taking instrument measurements, personnel from the environment ministry were also physically monitoring the smoke. The tests determined the smoke had exceeded the 20 per cent opacity limit. Opacity is a measure of the smoke’s thickness.

    All the findings were forwarded to Interior Health.

    Horne said the opacity tests indicated a concern, as did the neighbours’ complaints with respect to health symptoms.

    “We communicated that to the owner, that there appeared to be health effects. We would have some concerns if the boilers were turned on again and were emitting as much smoke as before.”

    Asked if the argument would be considered that the greenhouse gases created by the burning of natural gas could be worse than wood smoke, Horne said no. He said he is not qualified to determine which method produces less greenhouse gas.

    “The other fact is, we do have specific immediate health effects that are quite significant. Those cannot be outweighed by any theoretical or real reduction of greenhouse gases, because we have acute health effects.”

    Salmon Arm has not been alone in dealing with complaints about smoke from outdoor wood burners. Late last year the city received a letter from the provincial government stating it is currently reviewing its Environmental Management Act and the Solid Fuel Burning Domestic Appliance Regulation with a view to addressing outdoor wood burners.

    “They’ve been banned in the State of Washington...,” Horne told the Observer. “There is some discussion in B.C. about making a similar ban, but I’ve been told that is likely a couple of years away.”

    Full Article: CLICK HERE

    January 31, 2008

    Close the outdoor wood boiler loophole: Inefficient furnaces are harmful to health

    By DONALD A. MAHLER
    For the Monitor
    January 31. 2008 12:35AM
     

    Burning wood to stay warm, cook our meals and provide hot water is practically instinctive here in New England. And why not? Wood is a plentiful and renewable resource that is a safe and efficient fuel when burned properly. Its value as a locally harvested product that offers us some degree of energy independence makes its use particularly appealing.

    Burning wood doesn't come without hazards, however, particularly from the air pollution that is created. Tiny particles of soot and ash are produced when wood is burned. Particle pollution has been linked with respiratory illness, cardiovascular disease, cancer and premature death. Unfortunately, the more we learn about particulate air pollution, the more dangerous we find it to be at lower and lower concentrations.

    For decades the Environmental Protection Agency has been regulating wood stove emissions to minimize the impact of air pollution on the public health and the environment. In an excellent example of regulation driving innovation, wood stove design has made truly amazing advances in recent years. Today's cleanest burning wood stoves produce a fraction of the emissions of the current EPA standard.

    EPA standards for wood stove emissions have been a success story in protecting public health, driving investment in new and improved technology, and bringing profits to manufacturers. But as is often the case, unintended loopholes exist because the original standards didn't anticipate new wood burning devices. The unregulated outdoor wood boiler operates within just such a loophole.

    Outdoor wood boilers might seem like a sensible source of energy but in fact have dangerous unintended consequences. The average outdoor wood boiler emits more than 70 grams of particle pollution per hour. That's nearly 10 times the EPA standard for wood stoves and 100 times what the most efficient stoves emit.

    Outdoor wood boilers can be inefficient and dirty. At their worst, they burn at low temperatures, smolder, release soot and smoke close to the ground, and are large enough to burn trash, commercial waste, animal carcasses, and other dirty fuels unsuitable for residential combustion.

    There are no federal regulations for outdoor wood boilers, leaving individual states to take action to protect the health of their citizens. Without state action there are no limits on outdoor wood boiler pollution levels, no restrictions on the materials burned, and no installation standards. Without state action, manufacturers are not responsible for selling a safe product (even though cleaner outdoor wood boilers are already being produced), the public has no recourse if exposed to such emissions, and the local dealers are caught in the middle.

    It's time to close the outdoor wood boiler loophole in New Hampshire. There are boilers operating today that are threatening the health and property of neighbors and community members. State and local officials across New England are receiving a growing number of complaints that smoke from neighboring boilers is causing asthma attacks, emergency room visits, seasonal abandoning of homes, and significant loss of property values. Meanwhile, the sale and installation of new and unregulated outdoor wood boilers is making the problem worse every day. The number of boilers sold has increased tremendously in the last few years and the rising price of other energy sources will only increase the demand.

    It's time for the Legislature to take action and regulate outdoor wood boilers just like any other wood stove. Emissions, installation requirements and burn materials should be defined and updated regularly as new technology becomes available and our understanding of the health effects of air pollution evolves. Equally essential is the establishment of a process for those who are experiencing health or property loss as a result of a problem outdoor wood boiler to get relief.

    Burning wood doesn't have to threaten your health or the health of your neighbors. The problem with outdoor wood boilers is not about the wood, it's about the stove design. Air pollution at any level can pose serious health risks, especially for people with lung and heart disease. New Hampshire has one of the highest lung disease rates in the nation. Steps must be taken to reduce air pollution sources within the state to the lowest levels possible. Eliminating needless pollution caused by outdoor wood boilers is one important step to assure New Hampshire children and adults breathe healthy air.

    (Dr. Donald A. Mahler is a board member of the American Lung Association of New Hampshire and a professor of Medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon.)

    Full Article: CLICK HERE

    January 30, 2008

    Alternative heating source may save money

    By FRANK KONKEL
    Sentinel-Standard writer



    BELDING - Recent discussion at the Belding Planning Commission is mirroring that of other communities across the state - the pros and cons of outdoor wood boilers (OWBs).

    Currently, there are only two OWBs within city limits and officials haven't received complaints, but it has the potential to be a very controversial issue.

    “I'm interested in protecting the rights of property owners if they're looking for alternative heating methods, and at the same time, protecting those who have breathing problems,” said Belding Zoning Administrator and Code Enforcement Officer Roger May. “With that said, I don't think we're interested in banning [OWBs], but possibly regulating them.”

    The most obvious problem is that if OWBs become as popular a means to heat homes in residential areas as they have in rural areas, May said the city could see a lot more smoke.

    “The smoke from [OWBs] become an issue because the smoke stacks aren't very high,” said May, who added that most OWB smokestacks don't extend more than a few feet above the furnace. “So neighbors, if they're close by, could be drawing smoke-filled air into their homes.”

    Belding resident Matt Alberts doesn't think OWBs are a problem at all. As an owner, he thinks they're a safe, efficient way to heat homes.

    “Basically, it saves me $1,600 per year,” said Alberts, whose average monthly heat bill rarely exceeds $15 per month for his 1,900-square foot home. “Nobody's complained about any smoke from my burner. It dissipates before it gets to their houses.”

    Alberts said he keeps his home at 75 degrees, even in the middle of winter, and doesn't have to pay much extra to do so. Rather than pay “ridiculous” prices for oil or natural gas, Alberts cuts seasoned wood on a lot his friend purchased. It's a good workout, he said, and it benefits the environment because it's not burning fossil fuels.



    “I'm not using gas and oil to heat my home, I'm using dead wood, so I get to pull my green card,” said Alberts, who loads his stove about once per day. “I think it's a great way to do it. It's much more cost effective.”

    Not everybody agrees.

    There are potential problems with OWBs that have been well documented. According to Michigan Department of Environmental Equality air quality specialist Laura DeGuire, the majority of people who buy OWBs purchase low-quality, cheap variants that produce incomplete combustion leading to environmental pollution and a wealth of additional problems.

    Although DeGuire said “EPA-certified stoves are a wonderful way to go for people looking to burn wood,” - as they have a kind of filtering system that further burns unhealthy gasses - most people don't buy them because they're more expensive.

    To make matters worse, DeGuire said OWBs are meant to burn seasoned wood. Unfortunately, studies show more users burning green trees and even human trash.

    “It's horrible when people do that,” DeGuire said. “That's entirely unhealthy and we know that. If they burn, people should do so responsibly.”

    Even when used properly, OWBs emit an average of about four times as much fine particulate matter (fmp) as conventional wood stoves and 12 times as much fmp as EPA-certified wood stoves.

    OWBs emit 1,000 times more fmp than oil furnaces and 1,800 times more than gas furnaces. Such emissions are significant because fine particulate matter pollution has both short-term and long-term health effects.

    Put flatly, data from the Michigan DEQ shows that even though wood combustion accounts for only about nine percent of the nation's home heating needs, it accounts for an estimated 45 percent of the total fine particulate matter directly released by all fuel combustion used for residential heating

    “Incomplete combustion and short stacks lead to a concentration of pollutants in smoke,” DeGuire said. “There are better ways to heat in a heavily populated area. In a residential area, this is just not the way to go. But for those willing to purchase a high-quality OWB and use it properly, it can be a viable option.”

    For Alberts, it's too efficient and worthwhile to give up using his OWB.

    He'll keep using it unless there is an ordinance regulating them.

    And any action - a ban or otherwise - might take a while.

    “This is not a priority for us,” said May, who listened to similar discussion last year. “I don't see anything happening quickly, three to four months at the earliest.”

    Good or bad? It might just depend on what side of the smoke you live on.

    Full Article: CLICK HERE

    January 30, 2008

    Ask Eartha Steward: Are wood boilers responsible?

    By EARTHA STEWARD
    High County Conservation Center

    January 30, 2008

    I am interested in heating my home with an outdoor wood boiler. Is this an environmentally responsible choice?
    — B.S., Fairplay

    This is a topic that gets people fired up. Wood is a renewable resource after all — and with the beetle kill, we have much to go around. Unfortunately the lack of regulations on the outdoor boilers (also known as outdoor furnaces, water stoves and outdoor hydronic heaters) has left them to be horribly inefficient and huge producers of smoke. In fact, the large amount of smoke has caused many communities in the country to ban their use.

    If you live where the nearest neighbor is but a speck on the horizon, I still would think hard about whether to introduce an outdoor boiler to your home’s heating repertoire.

    But before I explain why, let me first explain what these are and how they work.
    An outdoor boiler (OB) looks like a small metal shed with a short smokestack. It is essentially a firebox (albeit a large one) with a water jacket surrounding it.

    Then, unseen to you or I, there are two insulated pipes running underground into the building that it heats. One of those carries water heated by the fire into the home for general heat or for heating hot water. The other pipe carries the cooled water back out of the home to be reheated.

    Sounds pretty basic, and even perhaps like one of those inventions that make you go, “Man! Why didn’t I think of that?” Unfortunately there is much more to it.

    You see, woodstoves are regulated by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and those run with efficiency ratings of 68 to 72 percent.

    But when the EPA ran tests on OBs they found that they were averaging 50 percent efficiency. And New York’s Environmental Protection Bureau found some as low as 28 percent in their tests. That means you are doing all of the work of cutting and stacking wood (and chopping down trees) and at best half of those trees and half of your effort is being utilized.

    What’s more, the New York State report declared that outdoor boilers “may be among the dirtiest and least economical modes of heating, especially when improperly used.”

    And I haven’t even gotten started on the smoke issue. According to the EPA tests, 20 times more smoke pours out of an outdoor boiler than from a woodstove (which, if it means something to you, is 50 grams of smoke per hour).

    When the water surrounding the firebox reaches a pre-determined temperature, the system cuts off the air supply to the fire, allowing the fire, and therefore the water jacket, to cool. The furnace then waits for the temperature of the water to dip to a certain point before opening up the air supply again. Poor combustion and large amounts of smoke result.

    Some OB manufacturers, aware of the poor efficiency of the systems have begun claiming “combustion efficiencies” of over 90 percent. This sounds better. But it turns out that it is meaningless and very misleading to the average consumer.

    A responsible manufacturer will never make claims as to their “combustion efficiencies.”

    The efficiency number you may want to pay attention to, however, is “net delivered efficiency,” and even then you need to take note of who conducted the test and under what conditions.

    For example, the EPA statistics I quoted earlier came from testing under ideal conditions, such as burning dry wood, which oftentimes isn’t realistic. Therefore the same outdoor boilers tested in a real world situation would likely return lower efficiency ratings and produce higher emissions. So those already bad numbers just got worse.

    If you are still interested in purchasing an outdoor boiler, I would recommend that you read up on them on the website www.woodheat.org, which is a proponent of heating with wood. Additionally, you should note that many OB manufacturers and various state environmental regulators have begun writing smoke emissions test standards and the EPA has adopted similar testing standards and a program that includes emissions guidelines.

    Outdoor boilers meeting these guidelines are in development now and could be on the market as early as this summer. So at least wait a bit.

    Additionally, with a quick call over to the Summit County Building Department, I learned that although many people have applied to be permitted for an OB, not one permit has been issued.

    They explained that they would love to see some permitted, as it would be a great use of the beetle kill. Unfortunately, not a single model brought before them passes the emissions standards set by the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division. I have, however, seen OBs in both Lake and Park counties.

    For now, those of us in modest sized homes, should instead consider heating it with a woodstove, heating fireplace or small basement wo