Freedom of Air - Public Awareness of Outdoor Wood Boilers

Public Awareness and Reasearch of Outdoor Wood Boilers

News 2013

This page is dedicated to any and all news stories we have found throughout the country and world 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 2013

December 21, 2013

Suit filed to protect elderly couple from pollution

Gaps in state law allow OWB use in rural Indiana

By    Alexandra Kruczek

Updated: Saturday, December 21, 2013, 12:00 PM EST

 

There are gaps in an Indiana law concerning Outdoor Wood Boiler use in rural areas of the state. Those gaps have allowed an elderly couple to suffer intolerable living conditions from their neighbors.

A lawsuit has been filed by the Hoosier Environmental Council against Christopher and Shelley Nicholson in Rush County Superior Court. The Nicholsons have been operating an Outdoor Wood Boiler, also known as an OWB, within feet of a neighbors property, which has resulted in excessive and noxious smoke negatively impacting the health of those neighbors. 

Mable and Gary Bowling are those neighbors. They live in Rush County, which is roughly 40 miles southeast of Indianapolis. They are now suffering considerably from the smoke that is emitted from the OWB, located just 10 feet from the Bowlings’ property line and 30 feet from their home. 

According to a physician's report, Mable has developed chronic bronchitis due to the Nicholsons’ OWB use. She has been hospitalized due to the bronchitis and receives ongoing medical treatment for asthma.

In addition, the Bowlings said they are "unable to go outside, sleep comfortably, have company or enjoy family gatherings." They add they are "fearful and despondent due to the constant invasion of noxious smoke and fumes from the Nicholsons’ OWB."

The Bowlings said have repeatedly asked the Nicholsons to stop using their OWB, or to move the OWB to another, less impactful location on the Nicolsons’ four-acre property.

When those requests were unanswered, they called upon numerous local and state government agencies and law enforcement to intervene. Those agencies included the Rush County Prosecutor’s Office, the Rush County Plan Commission, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, the State Department of Health and the Indiana Attorney General’s office.

Those agencies declined to take action pointing to Indiana’s existing OWB regulation. The OWB regulation does not prohibit use of the oldest, most polluting OWBs, like the one on the Nicholsons’ property, and the regulation does not prohibit nuisances caused by OWBs.

Without regulatory protection, the problem has not been resolved, leaving the Bowlings with no choice but to pursue legal action.

In a press release to News 18 Hoosier Environmental Council staff attorney Kim Ferraro said, "Our laws recognize that a landowner has a fundamental right to use his property as he wants, as long as that use does not infringe on his neighbor's right to do the same. Each time the Nicholsons use their OWB and allow its significant odors, smoke, and toxic fumes to invade the Bowlings' home, Gary and Mable suffer and are essentially prisoners in their own home. Unfortunately, Indiana's OWB regulation does not go far enough to protect the property rights of people, like the Bowlings, and this lawsuit is about addressing this important gap in state policy.”

Hoosier Environmental said there are more than 8,000 OWBs being used across Indiana. Other states across the country have laws in effect on OWBs or have banned them altogether, but the state of Indiana enacted inadequate safeguards from OWBs in 2011.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, OWBs are often significantly more polluting than other home-heating devices, even when properly used. They can release harmful toxins like formaldehyde and benzene and produce five to 10 times more cancer causing particles than normal woodstoves. They create heavy smoke, posing risks to public health.

According to Ferraro, a preliminary injunction ordering the Nicholsons to stop using the OWB while the case is being litigated, has been also been filed with the Rush County Superior Court.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

December 20, 2013

Scalp Level council OKs restrictions on furnaces

December 20, 2013

By: David Hurst dhurst@tribdem.com

 

SCALP LEVEL — It’s becoming a common sight in Scalp Level: When temperatures drop, plumes of smoke start rising from outdoor furnaces in backyards.

Then the borough office’s phone starts ringing with complaints, Borough Council members said. 

The growing number of outdoor furnaces – and their smoky fumes – prompted the council to adopt an ordinance Wednesday regulating the placement and smokestack height of such furnaces.

Solicitor Nicholas Banda said the move is aimed at easing neighbors’ concerns about smoky conditions the furnaces can create. 

The new law requires any new outdoor furnace being added in town to be built at least 40 feet from the nearest neighboring structure, Banda said.

And any outdoor furnace in town must have a chimney stack at least 20 feet high, or at least 

2 feet higher than the nearest roof line within 200 feet, the ordinance shows.

“The current furnaces can stay where they are ... but some might need to get their stacks adjusted,” Banda said. 

He estimated that five outdoor furnaces now exist in the borough.

But council members said that number could certainly grow. 

Ordinance violators will be given written notice giving them 10 days to get into compliance with the law, Banda said.

If corrective action isn’t taken, $600-per-day fines can be imposed, he said. 

The ordinance also restricts materials that can be burned in the outdoor burners, allowing only coal, natural wood and wood pellets.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

December 15, 2013

Outdoor wood-fired boilers pose threat to respiratory health

By: Staff Report, LaCrosse Tribune

December 15, 2013 12:00 am

 

Increased exposure to outdoor wood-fired boilers could be dangerous to human health.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, people who breathe wood smoke and creosote on a regular basis have the potential to develop respiratory and cardiovascular problems.

Particulate matter, a toxic air pollutant found in wood smoke, can seep into the lungs and cause eye and nose irritation, headache, wheezing, coughing and difficulty breathing.

People who are diagnosed with heart disease, asthma, emphysema or other respiratory diseases are at a higher risk than those without.  Senior citizens and young children are also more susceptible.

Whether a person will develop health problems from outdoor wood-fired boilers depends on how often he or she is exposed to the smoke.

David Liebl, pollution prevention specialist with UW-Cooperative Extension, said pollution can be especially bad in areas that have high ridges and low valleys. Smoke generated by outdoor wood-fired boilers is stronger than other kinds of smoke because the boiler maintains slower, cooler fires.

Outdoor wood-fired boilers can also be installed in poor locations and therefore cause more smoke to enter a home.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, about 9 percent of Wisconsin homes use wood to heat their home. According to the American Census Bureau, 18 percent of Vernon County and 17 percent of Crawford County households rely on wood to heat their homes.

“The main problem with wood smoke exposure is that wood smoke travels very easily into homes,” he said. “It can have a significant impact of people nearby.”

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

December 11, 2013

UPDATE: Fire destroys shed near Eyota

By: KTTC News, MN

Posted: Dec 11, 2013 7:48 AM CST

 

EYOTA, Minn. (KTTC) --Fire crews battled a shed fire near Eyota Wednesday morning.

Eyota and Dover Fire Departments were called to the 10,000 block of County Road 9 just after 3:30 a.m. 

According to fire officials, when firefighters arrived, the entire shed was engulfed in flames. A passerby on their way to work noticed the fire, and woke up the home owners, Renee and Bradly Beirbaum.

They made it out without injury. 

Firefighters tell us the biggest concern was to protect the home, and that they were able to keep the flames from spreading to the residence.

Powerlines were damaged in the fire, but no one was injured. 

The Olmsted County Sheriff's office says an outdoor wood boiler is where the fire likely started. Damage is estimated at $30,000 to $35,000 dollars.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

December 2, 2013

Shed lost to fire

Source: Brainerd Dispatch

Posted: December 2, 2013 - 4:37pm

 

Brainerd firefighters were up and at it right away Monday, when they were called to a shed fire at 8:20 a.m. on the 20000 block of Division Road, in rural Brainerd. 

Brainerd Fire Chief Kevin Stunek said upon arrival there was a 10-foot by 12-foot shed on fire. The shed, which held an outdoor wood stove and wood, was a total loss. The estimated dollar loss is $5,400.

Stunek said the wood stove appeared to be the cause of the fire. 

Stunek said when they first got the fire call they paged the Garrison Fire Department for mutual aid because they were not sure how close the shed was to the home. Once on scene, Garrison was canceled as Brainerd was able to extinguish the fire on its own.

Sixteen firefighters responded to the call, but not all of them went to the scene as it was not necessary. 

Brainerd fire has an engine and a tanker on scene; and North Memorial Ambulance also was on scene as a precaution.

The homeowner of the shed is Laura Larkin.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

November 2013

November 29, 2013 (opinion)

Ban on Outdoor Wood Boilers is Needed

Fri, 11/29/2013 - 7:10 pm | By Nancy Alderman

Source: Cape May County Herald

 

To the Editor:

An outdoor wood-burning furnace, also known as an outdoor wood boiler, is essentially a small, insulated shed with a short smokestack. It burns wood that heats water that is then sent through underground pipes to heat a home or a building. They emit smoke 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Outdoor wood furnaces (OWFs) are not to be confused with indoor wood stoves, which are tested and certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Outdoor wood furnaces are not tested. Most outdoor wood furnaces employ very primitive combustion technology. As a result, they emit dense smoke that endangers the health of families and neighbors. The particles of wood smoke are so small that closed doors and windows cannot stop them from entering homes, even energy-efficient, weather-tight homes. The use of outdoor wood furnaces has increased over the past few years, causing many complaints about their smoke emissions making families in their vicinity sick. One state’s Department of Environmental Protection's web site has a fact sheet that includes the question: "Are OWFs harmful to the environment and human health?" They answer, "Yes, OWFs produce a lot of thick smoke, which in addition to being a nuisance to neighbors, has serious health and air pollution impacts. Smoke from OWFs contains unhealthy amounts of particulate matter, dioxin, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, hydrochloric acid, formaldehyde and other toxic air pollutants. Exposure to smoke from an OWF can increase adverse respiratory and cardiovascular symptoms. Exposure to other pollutants listed above is associated with a diverse range of harmful health effects, including asthmatic sensitivity, lung illnesses and cancer." The state of Washington has banned them throughout their state because the OWFs wood smoke emissions do not fall within their air emission standards. Because the furnaces are in a closed shed, one cannot see what is being burned. Although they are designed for wood, owners can add yard waste, packing materials, construction debris, household garbage and tires without anyone knowing. Burning those substances is illegal. However, there is no way to know what is being burned. If these other substances are burned, it will increase the toxic and hazardous air pollutants. Different states have tried to protect people from these furnaces by passing regulations. However, none of the regulations have proven to be effective enough to protect health. For instance, Connecticut has a setback regulation of 200 feet from neighboring property and it has a regulation that requires the smokestack to be higher than the roof peak of the nearest house within 500 feet. However, tests have shown that houses as far away as 850 feet from an OWF have wood smoke inside their homes six times the levels of houses not near an outdoor wood furnace and four times the levels of the EPA air standards. Because of their basic design, it is possible that the furnaces can never be made safe. Their emissions problems are complicated by the fact they cycle between oxygen-deficient and oxygen-rich burning. The smoke that leaves the stack, irrespective of height, lacks the heat necessary for it to rise or to be diffused. The smoke falls to the ground. Breathing air containing wood smoke has many harmful effects. It can reduce lung function and increase asthma, emphysema, pneumonia and bronchitis. It can aggravate heart disease, irritate eyes, lungs, throat and sinuses, as well as trigger headaches and allergies. The smoke contains many carcinogens as does cigarette smoke. Environment and Human Health Inc. is a non-profit organization made up of physicians and public health professionals. It receives no funding from businesses or corporations.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

November 27, 2013

Citizen writer loses home in fire, pets missing

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

By Kristal Kuykendall, Citizen.Editor.Eureka@gmail.com

 

EUREKA SPRINGS -- A Eureka Springs couple survived unscathed but four pets are missing after a house fire destroyed their two-bedroom manufactured home south of town late Sunday.

Greg Bartlett, 57, and wife Beth, 45, had been visiting neighbors and were away from the house for about 45 minutes, Beth told the Lovely County Citizen, for whom she is a contributing writer and has earned national and regional writing awards. Greg is a computer repair technician and a martial arts instructor in Eureka. 

The Bartletts' property is at 380 County Road 3178 is off Highway 23 South, past Lake Lucerne. The cause of the fire is unknown, but the couple suspects a spark from the wood stove may have ignited nearby leaves, Beth said.

Eureka Springs Fire Department officials said on Tuesday that the fire officially is still under investigation but that it is not considered to be suspicious. 

Before the Bartletts left to visit their neighbors just before nightfall, Beth said, they turned everything off and dampened down the outdoor wood stove that is used for heating the home.

When they returned shortly after 6 p.m., "we saw fire, and it was working its way from around the wood stove to near the house," recalled Beth, clearly still in shock on Monday. "We called the (Eureka Springs) Fire Department, but we live in a remote area. They did a great job, but it was fully engulfed in flames by the time they got there. There wasn't anything else they could do, really." 

Eureka Springs Fire Department Public Information Officer Randy Ates said the call for the fire came in at 6:20; the firefighters and trucks were dispatched by 6:24 p.m., and the first responders, an ambulance, arrived 13 minutes later at 6:37. The firefighters began arriving at 6:41, records show.

Even though 21 minutes for a fire call that far outside of town is an "excellent" response time, Ates said the arriving firefighters had been slowed somewhat by the poor condition of the road and the unclear road signs on the way to the Bartletts. 

Ates was in the first emergency vehicle to arrive on scene, an ambulance, and it had to break limbs off overgrown trees hanging low over the road in order to get back to the fire, he said. The road was in "terrible condition" with horrible ruts, and the fire trucks had to drive through a creek as well, he said.

On the way there, County Road 315 splits, and the signage showing which way the main road went was not easily understandable, Ates explained. It was unclear which way CR315, the primary road, went, and which way was the offshoot or secondary road, CR 317. 

"The big tanker engine that came in first didn't have any trouble finding it; it came right to the fire," Ates said. However, a few of the responding vehicles did have trouble finding the exact location of the blaze, he said, taking the wrong road and having to turn around in very tight areas. Getting out of the area of the fire also was challenging, he added, with no place for the big trucks to turn around.

The Bartletts did not carry any insurance, Beth said, and the home and everything in it was a total loss. The Bartletts escaped with only the clothes on their backs, their vehicles, three cats and a dog. Four additional cats are still missing, she said. 

"We're hoping they were just scared off by the fire and sirens," Beth said. "We are hoping we see them again."

Beth even lost her purse, identification, cell phone and other important things a woman typically keeps in her handbag. 

"It's just all too monumental to think about right now," she said late Monday.

The Red Cross has immediately jumped in to help as much as it can, she said, providing some assistance to buy groceries and everyday necessities. The couple has a place to stay for the next several days where they can keep their pets with them, Beth said, but where they will stay after that is unknown at this time. 

A call for help posted Monday on Facebook by the Citizen and Carroll County News and various other friends already has garnered some donations and offers of help -- for which the Bartletts are very grateful, Beth emphasized.

"Everybody has been so wonderful to us today," she said. "The kindness everyone has shown to us has been unbelievable and we're so thankful to live in this community. 

"Everything we've been given so far, we open the bag and say, 'Oh yeah we need that,'" she added. "When everything is gone, you forget what all you need, even just everyday things like just Chapstick."

Beth choked up when describing a meaningful moment on Monday when the Citizen's Margo Elliott took Beth a pen and pad to write on. 

"I lost 15 years of work on my computer, so to this writer, that pad and paper and pen meant a lot," Beth said.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

November 27, 2013

Smoke from outdoor wood-fired boilers can be health hazard

Source: Agri-view, Wisconsin Department of Health Services

November 27, 2013 8:30 am

 

As the heating season approaches, wood smoke from outdoor wood-fired boilers (OWBs) and other wood heaters will lead to health and nuisance complaints across the state.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) reports that homeowners who are chronically exposed to smoke often complain of adverse health effects such as asthma, respiratory irritation, sinus issues or headaches. People with lung or heart conditions, children and the elderly are even more at risk from smoke exposure. 

Wisconsin is a leader in the number of operating OWBs, and in the absence of regulation this trend is expected to continue. Several features make OWBs a popular alternative heating source: the fire hazard is outside of the building being heated; wood storage and handling takes place outside; and wood is a renewable fuel source that may be less expensive than gas, oil or electricity.

There are significant disadvantages to using an OWB for home heating. 

“When OWBs are improperly located or operated, or a large number are located in a small area, conflicts with neighbors can occur due to excessive wood smoke and related health effects”, says David S. Liebl of UW-Extension’s Solid and Hazardous Waste Education Center.

Strong smoke odors combined with a visible plume indicate the presence of fine particulates and chemicals such as carbon monoxide and formaldehyde found in wood smoke. When smoke envelops a neighboring house or property, air quality degrades to conditions similar to what would trigger a DNR air quality advisory for fine particles, according to Liebl. A study of wood smoke in Grand Rapids, found high levels of fine particle pollution from wood smoke in neighborhoods where OWBs we being used. 

What causes excessive OWB smoke?

“Installing a stove with a stack that is too short, or at a distance too close to a neighboring building is probably the foremost reason for exposure to OWB smoke,” says Scott Sanford, rural energy program specialist with UW-Extension. “Poor design, faulty operation or inappropriate fueling practices also can lead to excessive smoke.” 

For example, operators should only add wood when there is a demand for heat, and only add enough fuel for heating the next 8 to 12 hours (or less) to help reduce smoke emissions.

Poor location, or weather conditions that prevent smoke from dispersing, also can lead to excessive wood smoke. 

“Neighbors downwind of an OWB may find themselves in the path of frequent smoke plumes from an OWB,” Liebl says. “As a public health concern, a visible plume, odors and health or nuisance complaints are sufficient to establish an individual's exposure to OWB emissions.”

While Wisconsin lacks statewide regulation of residential wood smoke, about 200 local municipalities have some type of ordinance regulating wood smoke, making it easier to resolve smoke-related conflicts. If your community does not have an ordinance, Liebl and Sanford recommend that you work with your local village, township, city or county officials to develop an OWB/Open Burning Ordinance. 

Adopting such an ordinance will reduce the likelihood of exposure to OWB emissions, and provide a way to resolve conflicts.

If you are an individual dealing with a health or nuisance issue related to OWBs, you can take these steps: 

• Meet with the OWB owner or operator to discuss the exposure problem.

• Check for proper stack height and property line setbacks. 

• Review OWB fueling practices with the operator.

• Make sure nothing but clean dry wood is used as fuel (no trash or other materials). 

If you are unable to resolve the OWB emission exposure issue, your local health department may be able to provide assistance.

Here is a list of resources on OWBs and wood smoke. 

Wisconsin Department of Health Services:

www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/eh/air/fs/waterstoves.htm 

www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/eh/air/fs/WoodBrn.htm

For more information, contact DHS Rob Thiboldeaux at 608-267-6844, Robert.Thiboldeaux@wi.gov or Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

November 24, 2013

Outdoor Wood Furnaces May Require Legislation

 

Source:  Cape May County Herald, Sun, 11/24/2013 - 9:06 am

By Ray Rebmann

 

DENNISVILLE – Dennis Township is considering legislating the installation and operation of outdoor wood furnaces. Alma George, a member of the township’s Natural Resources Committee (NRC), spoke at the township committee meeting Nov. 19 about the need to regulate the increasingly popular devices.

Outdoor wood furnaces are wood burning heating units installed outside the home, typically housed in shed sized structures. They are used to provide heat and/or hot water for residences. 

George distributed copies of a proposed ordinance the NRC has been working on addressing potential concerns with the operation of the devices. Currently, the township has no requirement for construction permits or any regulations governing their use.

George read from the opening statement of the proposed ordinance. The statement acknowledged the potential economic advantages for a homeowner using the outdoor wood furnace. However, there are concerns regarding their safety and environmental impacts. Specifically mentioned are “hazardous smokes, odors and air pollution.” 

One of the main concerns cited in the proposed ordinance is the potential negative impacts of the use of these devices on neighboring property owners. In fact, George noted, the NRC’s involvement was initiated by complaints from several neighbors who live near a currently operating boiler.

The proposed ordinance does not ban their use, but establishes guidelines and restrictions on their operation, and includes a permitting requirement. 

According to George, the NRC has been meeting for six months. During that time, members have conducted extensive research into similar ordinances that have been enacted by dozens of municipalities in N.J., Pa., N.Y., and Del.

In addition, the committee reviewed literature from the state DEP, federal EPA, as well as literature published by concerned organizations like the American Lung Association and recommendations for possible legislation offered by manufacturers of the devices. 

“We also met with Erin Wertz (Cape May County Health Inspector), who is directly involved in investigating complaints about the devices,” George said.

Wertz is a state certified “smoke reader,” according to George. Wertz is certified through Rutgers University. George noted that if the proposed ordinance were enacted in Dennis Township, the individual designated to handle related issues would need to complete that course. 

Committee members asked about existing outdoor wood boilers in the township and how the ordinance would affect them.

“They may be grandfathered,” George replied. “However, state air quality and related regulations would apply to them, as well as any new installations.” 

“It could be similar to a gas station,” Committee member Al DiCicco observed. “They may have to upgrade the furnace.”

While the proposed ordinance does not ban what were described as “homemade wood boilers,” it would require them to conform to the same permitting and inspection guidelines as those installed by licensed manufacturers. 

At this point, the subject is at the discussion stage. George distributed copies of the NRC’s work to the municipal governing body, engineer and solicitor for them to review and modify as they deem necessary before deciding whether to introduce it formally for consideration and public comment.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

November 24, 2013

‘More dangerous on a dose-by-dose basis than cigarette smoke’: Concerns about wood-stove smoke prompt state review

By Kathryn Skelton, Sun Journal

Posted Nov. 24, 2013, at 4:21 p.m.     

 

For two years, the state has kept filters from a Greenville air-quality project — a project that tried to analyze wood-smoke pollutants in the air — nestled in a freezer.

Soon, it will finally send those samples off to a lab.

Next winter, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection plans to replicate the Greenville study in Bethel after hearing stories about a consistent smoke haze there.

In January 2015, expect another attempt at cracking down on wood smoke by the Maine Legislature. The last attempt failed five months ago; the attempt before that was vetoed by the governor.

Gov. Paul LePage warned that suggesting we burn less wood could “signal that our proud history may be waning.”

Wood smoke as a public health issue hasn’t gained much traction. This is Maine; Maine is wood.

Yet, according to Ed Miller, senior vice president for policy at the American Lung Association of the Northeast, “It’s actually more dangerous on a dose-by-dose basis than cigarette smoke.”

Miller added, “The problem is sort of compounded, though, that unlike cigarette smoke … we’re at a point where there’s still a lot of mystique about wood smoke. The smell of wood smoke in the air, ‘Oh, smells like fall.’ People wouldn’t walk into a room and go, ‘Oh, it smells like cigarette smoke, it’s so nice in here.’”

Clearly, something is in the air.

But how bad is it?

Greenville and Bethel could answer that.

Rocky road

Ernest Grolimund began a one-man crusade to get Maine to take the issue seriously when his neighbor began burning with both an indoor wood boiler and a wood stove in 2007.

“Immediately, my eyes were stinging and I was having allergy reactions,” said Grolimund, of Waterville. “I knew as an engineer, right away, this was bad.”

His daughter had an asthma attack. His neighbor had a heart attack. He attributes both to wood smoke.

As heating oil prices rise, more Mainers have turned to wood as their primary heat source, according to the U.S. Census. It nudged up to 13.7 percent of homes last year, from 6.4 percent in 2000. Even more use it on an occasional basis.

Grolimund worries about health effects if that trend continues or if Maine faces a smoky spike after a natural disaster.

“What would happen if there were a blizzard or a blackout and everybody went back to using their stoves?” he said.

Armed with detailed charts, stats and pictures, largely data from other states, he pitched Maine Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland, last month on a new bill to curb wood smoke.

Alfond said no.

“It definitely is something that, intuitively, we’ve all been around a campfire when that massive amount of smoke comes into your face and your eyes start to hurt and your clothes smell. You move; [you] don’t want to be downwind,” Alfond said.

But he wants to see more than Grolimund at his door.

“I need to see broader support,” Alfond said. “I need to see the medical community put this as a top priority. I would need to see folks within the wood industry being interested in discussing this and understanding how we can reduce the health effects. The idea of living in a state with so much wood, with wood being such a big part of our history, the idea of banning it just like that, I don’t see that process being successful.”

So far, the effort has had sporadic results.

Rep. Linda Sanborn, D-Gorham, sponsored a bill last session that would have aligned the smoke standards for wood stoves with the current standards for outdoor wood boilers.

A retired family physician, Sanborn had been approached by Miller at the Lung Association to collaborate on the legislation. When its chances didn’t look good out of committee, she pulled the bill.

“I think part of [the reluctance in Augusta] is money,” Sanborn said. “I think part of it is our forestry industry. We have lots and lots of wood in Maine, so it seems kind of anti-Maine to propose a bill where you can’t burn wood. I always start out my testimony about it saying, ‘I burn wood.’”

The strategy next time, she said, might be to link legislation with a rebate program offered in other states — rewarding people who turn in old, inefficient stoves and put the money toward new, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-certified stoves.

“The risks are known, and are significant, so it’s worth continuing to try again with the bill and make it more reasonable and come back with it,” Sanborn said.

In July 2010, the Maine Legislature did vote to establish a wood stove replacement fund, targeting pre-1988 stoves. The fund didn’t have any rules outlining how it would work until this week, when the Maine DEP sent them off to the Secretary of State’s Office to finally make them official.

There wasn’t a rush; the fund also didn’t have any money.

“We’re supposed to go and find money from whatever source we can, besides the taxpayers,” said Louis Fontaine, compliance coordinator for the DEP’s Bureau of Air Quality. “So far, we haven’t found anything.”

Fontaine said a replacement program for old wood boilers has suffered a similar fate.

“The hope was that we could convince somebody who’s had a big violation, who’s had to pay a penalty, to convince them to have their fines put into these accounts,” Fontaine said. “But we’ve never been able to convince them to put the money there.”

New Hampshire and Massachusetts both have active wood stove rebate programs funded by fine money. Eight states also have taken some specific actions related to wood smoke, according to the EPA. In Washington, a fee is added to the sale of every wood stove and boiler and used to fund air quality education. Utah created a “Red Light, Green Light” program: On poor air days, a red light day is declared and no residential or commercial wood burning is allowed; inspectors drive around looking for smoke and fining violators.

Exploring pockets

Emissions such as wood smoke are measured in two sizes: PM10, or particulate matter 10, is 10 microns or fewer in diameter, tiny enough to be breathed in and make it past nose hairs. Even smaller PM2.5 particles can “get into the very smallest recesses of the lungs and are actually more of a health problem,” said Andy Johnson, acting division director for the DEP’s Air Quality Assessment Division.

Particulate matter in the winter often comes from wood smoke, and particulate matter in the summer from traffic and out-of-state forest fires. The state measures for both sizes with monitors throughout Maine, including Country Kitchen in Lewiston and Rumford Avenue in Rumford.

For the past decade, the amounts of both size levels have been going down statewide.

But that’s not to say that in pockets of the state levels aren’t sometimes high, Johnson said. The Greenville project was an attempt to get at one of those pockets, but it proved less than ideal. Oil prices that winter leveled off, so not as many people burned wood as anticipated. Also, Moosehead Lake had a greater effect than officials thought it would, allowing the air to more widely disperse and slip away instead of capturing it.

“We really need to be in a deeper, more confined valley situation,” he said.

Enter Bethel.

“It’s just obvious to the technical folks here there’s a lot of information that we don’t have,” Johnson said. “The whole part of this study was designed to provide the core, technical, scientific basis for going forward with any other kind of regulatory approaches to deal with wood smoke.”

Miller at the American Lung Association said smoke toxins too microscopic to be seen have the worst health effects, slipping from the lungs into the bloodstream and potentially leading to heart attacks, heart disease and lung disease.

He likened the uphill battle for raising awareness around wood smoke to secondhand smoke in the 1960s — with the twist that wood, unlike cigarettes, has upsides.

“[Given] the cost of oil for people to heat their homes, and the low-income folks we have in this state, [legislators] are very concerned about doing anything that would cause people more hardship, economically,” Miller said. “We certainly understand that — it’s not good for your health to be cold. We get that piece.”

Patrick Strauch, executive director of the Maine Forest Products Council, said 20 percent of Maine’s energy comes from wood and 2 percent of wood harvested in Maine goes directly to heating homes.

“It’s a [wood stove] siting issue and it’s a technology issue: Do you have the most efficient technology in your home?” Strauch said.

Newer, federal EPA-certified wood stoves burn hotter, with less smoldering, and are up to 50 percent more energy efficient, burning one-third less wood, with 70 percent less particle pollution, according to the EPA.

The federal agency is working on updating and tightening its wood-stove smoke emissions standards for the first time since 1988. Those regulations are expected to come out next year and will apply only to new stoves.

Also, sometime next year, the state will get results from the Greenville project.

It’s all not fast enough for Grolimund in Waterville.

“All smoke is dangerous; it’s unhealthy,” he said. “Old tradition is in conflict with new science.”

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

November 23, 2013

Backyard boilers could be on chopping block

By: Justin Murphy, Staff writer 9:10 a.m. EST November 23, 2013

 

When the weather starts to turn, Rick Billitier doesn't turn on the furnace. 

Instead, he loads firewood into the big green stove in his back yard — often called a wood boiler — to heat his Ogden home

In rural areas throughout New York — where firewood and open space are plentiful, and traditional heating costs are high — boilers are an attractive option. 

But environmental considerations may soon rattle the market. Meanwhile, some rural towns have already barred boiler's like Billitier's — and others are weighing similar measures.

The shed-shaped stoves heat water that's then circulated around the house through pipes. Many models can also be used to be provide hot water for home use. 

In New York, where the U.S. Energy Information Administration says electric heat bills are 60 percent above the national average, the benefits are obvious. Natural gas heating costs are expected to rise by as much as 13 percent this winter, according to an AARP report. 

About 14,500 of the units were sold in New York from 1999 to 2007, according to a state estimate. Several buyers estimated a total cost of about $15,000 between the boiler itself and the piping to carry the heat into the house.

"The appeal to a wood boiler is that all the mess of the wood and the fire is outdoors; you're not hauling wood into your home," said Bruce Briggs, owner of LeRoy Hearth and Home. "You can fill it up, leave it, go to work for 10 hours, come back and top it off and you're good until tomorrow morning." 

But criticism on two fronts threatens to put a chill on the boilers. First, at the local level, neighbors often complain that constant smoke from the stoves gets in their houses and stays there all winter.

At a public hearing on the matter in Ogden a few years ago, one resident said the smoke from a nearby stove had worsened her asthma. Others complained about the pervasive smell.

That's often a product of people burning unseasoned wood or garbage in their stoves, or having them in relatively densely packed areas.

"Originally these units were meant to be put in rural areas where people have several acres of land and some wood on it to heat their home," said Keith Astrup, vice president of operations for Heatmor, a stove manufacturer in Minnesota.

Environmental concerns 

The second criticism — that wood smoke is a serious pollutant — is having a more serious effect on the market.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation mandated in 2010 that manufacturers reduce emissions from new outdoor wood stoves by 90 percent. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman recently joined the state to a lawsuit against the federal Environmental Protection Agency, accusing it of failing to regulate the stoves and calling for stricter emissions standards. 

Recent EPA data found that soot from the wood-heaters makes up 13 percent of all soot pollution nationwide.

"Smoke from residential wood-burning heaters poses a serious health threat, especially in New York's rural communities," Schneiderman said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. "This lawsuit aims to force the EPA to comply with the Clean Air Act and provide overdue leadership in requiring new wood heaters to meet stricter pollution standards — an action that will save consumers money, improve local air quality and safeguard public health." 

Astrup predicted the federal government would comply and issue tighter regulations within 18 months, resulting in higher retail prices for stoves. He said sales are already down in New York and other states with regulations currently in place.

"It's not going to be good," he said. "When you get to the emission levels they're talking about, it's basically no smoke." 

Heatmor already offers such high-efficiency units for about $11,000, compared to $7,800 for its more popular, lower-efficiency unit.

Gary VanDeWater, owner of Outdoor Accents in Penfield, stopped selling outdoor wood stoves around the time the DEC regulation took effect. 

"They're just too hard to sell," he said. "Nobody bought them anymore. It cost too much to pass state standards."

Borrowed time 

In Ogden, Billitier and others are burning wood on borrowed time. In 2008, the town banned outdoor wood stoves, with a seven-year amortization period for those who'd already bought them.

That means town residents with wood stoves — there are about eight of them — will have to get rid of their units in 2015 unless the town board grants them an extension, based mostly on financial considerations and also whether their stoves have elicited complaints from neighbors. 

Other rural communities have considered similar measures. In Walworth, Wayne County, officials are considering a change to the town code to require large setbacks for the stoves, town Building Inspector Norm Druschel said.

Jack Crooks, the Ogden building inspector when that town's law went into effect, said he supports EPA regulation, especially to curtail the use of homemade high-emission stoves. 

"For the standards of manufacturing, (regulation) does make sense," he said. "It would at least assure the units on the market today are run as cleanly as they can."

But the law bothers Billitier and fellow town resident Dennis Glavas, who bought his stove just before the law went into effect. 

"If they made regulations where you need a taller stack or where you put it, I could see that," said Glavas, who gets his firewood mostly for free from friends. "But just to say you can't have it because of no reason makes no sense to me."

Astrup, the manufacturer, said his company has been working with the EPA on emissions tests and proposed guidelines, which he predicted will be at least as stringent as the current New York standard. He said the company supports meeting environmental standards but doesn't want all boiler users to be penalized. 

"I'm torn a little bit," he said. "We can build a unit that passes an emissions test in the lab, but what happens in the real world is up to how the consumer operates it."

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

November 22, 2013

Police Blotter - Nov. 22

Compiled by Jennifer Stockinger, Staff Writer.

Source: Brainerd Dispatch

Posted: November 21, 2013 - 6:26pm

FIRE — A report at 10:27 a.m. Tuesday of an outdoor boiler and wood shed were fully engulfed on 213th Street in Pierz. Pierz Fire responded. The boiler was under the shed along with five cords of dry wood.

A report at 9:19 a.m. Monday of a wood pile and outdoor boiler on fire in Hillman. Pierz Fire was paged. It appeared the wood pile was to close to the stove causing it to ignite. The pile of wood was approximately 3-feet away on either side of the outdoor boiler.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

November 18, 2013

EPA Wants To Regulate Americans Burning Wood

Source: FoxNews

Date: November 18, 2013

By: By Barbara Hollingsworth

A lawsuit filed against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by seven states is seeking to force the federal agency to impose stringent new regulations on residential wood-burning heaters, which they claim “can increase particle pollution to levels that cause significant health concerns.”

The lawsuit, filed last month in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by the attorneys general of Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont, is directed against currently unregulated “indoor and outdoor wood boilers,” which have become an increasingly popular way to heat homes, particularly in rural areas.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

November 14, 2013

Christie Administration urges safe use of woodstoves and fireplaces

By Independent Press

on November 14, 2013 at 7:42 PM

 

TRENTON - With colder weather prompting increased use of woodstoves and fireplaces
in homes across the state, the Department of Environmental Protection is reminding New Jersey residents to exercise caution and consideration of fellow residents and the environment when burning wood for heat.

“Homeowners who have fireplaces or woodstoves should find an abundance of wood available this year as many trees were downed or removed after Superstorm Sandy,” said DEP Assistant
Commissioner of Environmental management Jane Kozinski. “But it’s important to remember that wood smoke does contain pollutants and there are steps you can take to minimize your impact on the environment, on your neighbor’s air quality and your own safety.”

Wood smoke contains fine particles that can contribute to air pollution. But by following a few key steps, in concert with having a properly installed and maintained woodstove or fireplace, residents can greatly reduce or eliminate smoke while burning wood.

The DEP recommends the following guidelines:

Allow wood to season for at least six months before burning it, meaning the wood should sit
outdoors for at least this period of time.

Seasoned wood is darker, has cracks in the end grain and sounds hollow when smacked against another piece of wood. Wood gathered after Superstorm Sandy is most likely dry enough now for proper burning but the longer the wood sits before burning, the better that the wood will burn, provided it is stored in a dry place.

Use a wood moisture meter to test the moisture content of wood. Wood burns most efficiently
when its moisture content is below 20 percent.

Store wood, stacked neatly off the ground with the top covered to avoid rainwater.

Start fires with newspaper and dry kindling and keep them burning hot.

Regularly remove ashes to ensure proper airflow.

Never burn garbage, cardboard, plastics, wrapping materials, painted materials or other
materials in your stove or fireplace.

Remember to keep anything flammable - including drapes, furniture, newspapers and books - far away from any wood-burning appliance. Keep an accessible and recently inspected fire extinguisher nearby.

The DEP also urges residents to check local air quality at http://www.njaqinow.net prior to burning wood and to consider other heating alternatives on days the air quality is unhealthy.

State regulations and some municipal ordinances prohibit the emission of visible smoke from outdoor wood boilers. These boilers heat a fluid that is circulated in homes and buildings for heating purposes. Under state regulations, these boilers may only emit visible smoke for three minutes every half-hour to allow for fire-starting.

In deciding how to heat your home this winter and reduce your exposure to fine particles from wood smoke, DEP recommends upgrading to an Environmental Protection Authority-certified wood stove or fireplace insert. The newer equipment will reduce air pollution and is much more energy efficient.

For more information on wood burning in New Jersey, visit: http://www.nj.gov/dep/baqp/woodburning.html

 

For more on the EPA’s Burnwise program, visit: http://www.epa.gov/burnwise/

Full Article: CLICK HERE

November 6, 2013

Auditor: Manlius in good financial shape (OWBs discussed)

By Donna Barker

Created: Wednesday, November 6, 2013

 

MANLIUS — The village of Manlius is in overall good financial position, according to its auditor. 

At Tuesday’s meeting, the Manlius Village Board heard from auditor David Wilcoxson on the audit recently completed for the village.

In other business at Tuesday’s meeting, Mayor Rob Hewitt announced the village board would not be discussing the wood burning ordinance as originally planned for that meeting. More research was needed into the issue, he said. 

As reported earlier in the Bureau County Republican, the board had agreed to create a wood-burning ordinance after a resident approached the board earlier this year with a concern that his neighbor’s homemade, outdoor wood stove burner was allegedly producing a large quantity of thick, blue smoke.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

November 6, 2013

Zoning ordinance amendments approved by Borough Council 

By CURTIS GARLAND

Staff Writer

Published: Wednesday, November 6, 2013 8:42 AM EST

 

Several proposed amendments to the Newville Borough Zoning Ordinance were approved by Borough Council last Tuesday during its regular monthly meeting. The amendments (pending very minor changes) pertain to parking, open burning, alternative energy, demolition and street lighting.

 

Open burning and boilers 

Prior to the council meeting, there was a public hearing on the proposed zoning amendments. Almost all of the discussion from visitors pertained to the proposed changes to outdoor burning and wood-fired boilers.

Newville resident Bob Woltz came to the meeting to ask what the changes were to the open burning ordinance. He said he was concerned about it since many houses in the borough are close together and a fire can get out of hand quickly. 

Potzer, Newville Borough Planning Commission member Karl Smith, Solicitor Marcus McKnight and Council Vice President Ben Sweger spoke about the changes to open burning.

Part of the amendment to the 1973 ordinance reads, “No open outdoor burning of trash or other open fires, except for small fire pits with adequate safety protection, shall be permitted.” In addition to small fire pits, gas or charcoal grills and similar devices are allowed, McKnight said. 

“We’ve looked at it from a safety standpoint,” Potzer said during the meeting. He said they have also considered the financial standpoint because the borough receives DEP recycling funds. If the borough continued to allow open burning, the borough may “lose those recycling funds or in some way (get) penalized by the state.”

Potzer said after the meeting that since the borough now has weekly collection of trash and collection of recycling, “the need to burn within the borough is greatly negated.” 

There are several changes to the outdoor wood-fired boilers ordinance including the type of fuel to use, the setbacks, emissions standards and permitting. Boilers already in place before the ordinance was adopted are grandfathered and do not need to make any changes.

With the new amendments, boilers can only be used from Sept. 1 to May 31 and must adhere to “fairly restrictive” setback requirements, according to Potzer. A boiler must now be installed with setbacks of 50 feet from the front, side or rear, and they cannot be installed in the front yard between the principal building and a public street. 

The boiler is only permitted to use certain types of fuels, including clean wood and pellets and starters such as heating oil, natural gas or propane. Also, it must have a permanently installed stack that extends at least 10 feet above the ground.

All storage of materials to be burned must be kept at least five feet away from the boiler and must meet EPA Phase 2 emission standards. Non-Phase 2 boilers acquired through real estate transactions are exempt from meeting the emission standards.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

November 5, 2013

Retired woodburner program a success for county

By: Staff Reports

November 5, 2013 | Vol. 74 No. 16, SoPGHReporter

 

Smoke and fine particulate pollution from woodstoves and outdoor wood-fired boilers will be reduced this winter thanks to the Allegheny County Health Department’s recently conducted “bounty” program for old equipment that does not meet current national emission standards.

Fifty-nine woodstoves and one outdoor wood-fired boiler manufactured before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency set emission standards for such equipment were turned in last month at a collection event in South Park sponsored by the Health Department. 

The bounty program was for Allegheny County residents and provided a $500 cash incentive for the outdoor wood-fired boiler and a $200 gift card to one of six retailers for each of the 59 uncertified woodstoves that were collected and taken out of service. The boiler and stoves were hauled away by Tube City IMS to its Recycling Center in West Mifflin where they were rendered inoperable and recycled.

Because of the success of the initial collection event, the Health Department is planning to extend the bounty program and hold a second collection event. The date has not yet been determined, but anyone who would like to participate and turn in an old outdoor wood-fired boiler or woodstove is urged to email aconner@achd.net or call 412-578-8106.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

November 4, 2013

Is outdoor wood boiler up to code?

From staff reports Pharos-Tribune

November 4, 2013

 

Indiana has specific rules about how outdoor wood heaters can be used and what can be burned as fuel.

While the majority of Hoosiers heat their homes with natural gas, an electric furnace, or even an indoor wood stove, some use outdoor wood boilers to produce heat. Outdoor hydronic heaters (also called outdoor wood boilers or outdoor wood furnaces) are free-standing wood-burning appliances that heat water, which is then pumped to one or more structures to provide heat. An outdoor hydronic heater also can be used to provide hot water year-round to structures and to heat swimming pools. Units are typically the size and shape of a small storage shed or mini-barn with a short smoke stack on top. They are much larger and differ in design, operation, and emissions produced from the smaller indoor wood stoves, pellet stoves, and fireplaces.

Since 2011, the Indiana Department of Environmental Management has implemented rules that govern the use of outdoor hydronic heaters, in addition to the federal rules that govern them. You can view the full language of rule 326 IAC 4-3 in the Indiana administrative code. Find more information on outdoor hydronic heaters and their restrictions at http://www.idem.IN.gov/airquality/2558.htm

Units that were made prior to U.S. EPA’s Phase 2 emission rules can only operate from Oct. 1 through April 30 in Indiana. Newer, Phase 2 certified models can operate year-round. All units in the state must follow these basic regulations:

1) Units must burn clean wood or other approved renewable fuel. 

2) Smoke from the stack is limited to less than 20-percent opacity (the amount of light blocked by particulates). Good combustion practices and proper maintenance of the unit should lead to compliance with the 20-percent limit.

3) Units must abide by all federal, state and local ordinances. 

4) Outdoor hydronic heaters that have not been qualified to meet U.S. EPA’s Phase 2 emission limits must have a permanent stack extending 5 feet higher than the peak of the roof of any occupied building within 150 feet of the unit.

Only outdoor hydronic heaters that meet Phase 2 standards can be distributed, sold, or installed in the state. When purchasing a new unit, look for a white tag affixed to the unit, which signified it meets the Phase 2 emission limits. Sellers and dealers must provide a copy of the rule (326 IAC 4-3) to buyers, and the buyer must sign a notice confirming receipt of the rule. The seller or dealer must send the signed notice to IDEM within seven days of delivering the unit to the buyer or lessee.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

November 2, 2013

In suburbia, where there's smoke, there's ire

By Patrick Lester, Of The Morning Call

November 02, 2013

 

Some municipalities are revisiting outdoor burning as populations increase

 

When he moved to Upper Milford earlier this year, Andrew Calmar never thought twice about setting a match to twigs, branches and brush that accumulated on his acre-plus property.

Outdoor burning is perfectly legal in his neighborhood. 

"Every day, something drops out of the trees. And they're old trees," Calmar said. "As long as you're doing it in a safe manner, you should be able to do what mankind has done for hundreds of years."

Unfortunately for Calmar, not all of mankind subscribes to that philosophy. 

In fact, some of Calmar's nearest neighbors are downright fired up about the smoke coming from his property — so much so that they circulated a petition urging township supervisors to ban outdoor burning.

Calmar's plight illustrates a common suburban theme, particularly in tightly packed neighborhoods: where there's smoke, there's often ire. 

As townships have grown, so too have complaints about backyard smoke and the neighborhood feuds it sometimes creates.

Last month, Neffs Volunteer Fire Company Chief James Steward said his phone had been "ringing off the hook" with complaints about backyard campfires in North Whitehall Township. 

Steward said when North Whitehall passed its open-burning ban five years ago, it allowed recreational fires, but said nothing about how big or close to property lines they could be.

"I'm not an advocate of taking away anyone's God-given right to have a campfire in their backyard, but we've got to be smart," said Steward, who asked that supervisors revise the ordinance to cut down on disputes. 

In Lower Macungie Township, resident Dennis Seaman has been on a crusade to persuade the township's Board of Supervisors to ban all wood burning, whether it be outdoors or indoors. Seaman said wood burning is "unacceptable," particularly for people with respiratory problems and heart and lung diseases.

"We respect what you're saying," Lower Macungie Commissioner Ron Eichenberg recently told Seaman. "But I don't think any of us agree with it. I don't see how it's feasible." 

Complaints in large, partly rural townships largely center on the odor and air pollution caused by backyard burning, whether it is wood, leaves or paper.

A study conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the New York State Department of Health revealed that emissions from two to 40 properties burning trash daily in barrels can produce toxic emissions comparable a municipal incinerator that burns200 tons per day. The EPA includes paper, cardboard and yard waste in that definition of "trash." 

The EPA says the major health threats from wood smoke are particles that can cause burning eyes, runny nose and illnesses such as bronchitis. Wood smoke also contains harmful chemicals including benzene, which the EPA says can cause cancer at high levels of lifetime exposure, and formaldehyde, which may cause cancer.

Despite such health issues, outdoor burning is a common practice in many areas of the state, said Ginni Linn, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors. 

The issue of outdoor burning has always been a local government issue because the state does not have the power to impose a statewide ban.

"Unless open burning is banned by township ordinance, residents can do it," Linn said. 

Many municipalities have been motivated to ban open burning not because of the health concerns but the threat of losing state recycling grant money if they don't.

Municipalities that receive recycling-related grants and are mandated to recycle must have burning ordinances that prohibit the burning of recyclable materials. 

That's why Williams Township last month approved an ordinance banning open burning, with some exceptions. Residents now have to bring yard waste to the township's recycling center.

Township solicitor Jonathan Reiss said the ban is expected to reduce air pollution and make sure residents are recycling items like paper and cardboard. 

A number of municipalities have banned the use of outdoor furnaces fueled by wood, or limited them to rural areas because of the smoke and pollution they create. South Whitehall Commissioners passed such an ordinance last year, saying the wood-fired boilers clash with the township's suburban character.

Typically a boiler, which is fueled by wood, is placed in a small, insulated shed with a smokestack. Fire is used to heat water, which circulates through the unit and into pipes within the home. 

Generally, municipalities that restrict outdoor burning allow outdoor fires for cooking. Others permit chimineas, small fire pits, fires for religious and ceremonial reasons and fires for clearing farmland. In some cases, residents are required to get permits to burn.

In Upper Milford, billed on its website as a community of "great scenic and rural character," some say it's time to let got of habits that long have been acceptable in the countryside.

The township allows residents to burn their own "domestic refuse" on their properties.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

October 2013

October 29, 2013

Newville proposes burn ban

By Samantha Madison, The Sentinel

October 29, 2013 9:57 pm 

 

NEWVILLE — One resident brought his concerns to the Borough Council at a public hearing about amendments to the zoning ordinance on Tuesday. 

Bob Woltz, of Newville, was looking to get clarification about proposed amendments, which included articles about open burning as well as outdoor wood-fired boilers. Woltz wanted to discuss the issue because he has experienced people burning trash and sees it as an issue. The proposal would ban open, outdoor burning of trash or other open fires, except for small fire pits with adequate safety protection. Dangerous emissions would also not be permitted.

Woltz wanted to know what the amendments would change to the burning of trash outdoors. Borough Manager Fred Potzer said that because Newville received funds from the Department of Environmental Protection for recycling, the council cannot allow open burning of any kind. 

“Outdoor burning of any type is prohibited,” Potzer said. “That’s for a couple of reasons; I think we looked at it from a safety standpoint ... We received DEP recycling funds; we can no longer permit open burning as a municipality. If we do, we lose those recycling funds or are in some way penalized by the state.”

The council discussed making small changes to the definition of “adequate safety protection” as well as fixing the required inspection for permanent outdoor fire pits and wood-fired boilers. The council voted to accept the proposed amendments pending the changes. 

In other business, the council voted to appoint a new school guard at a rate of $10.04 per hour, as well as a substitute guard to cover when the full-time guard cannot make it.

Stephanie Bear and James Swartz’s resignations were accepted by the council on Tuesday. Swartz was an officer with the police department. Bear was a member of the zoning hearing board. 

The council voted unanimously to have Officer Charles Pyatt start full time beginning Wednesday morning at a rate of $35,000 a year. Pyatt had previously been working for the police department part time, working on rental code enforcement. He will continue to work as the rental code enforcement officer while being full time with the department.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

October 29, 2013

Woodsmoke contains toxic chemicals

By Linda Beaudin
Oct 29, 2013 / 4:23 pm

Bring out the Mittens

As the cold winter weather quickly approaches it is time to bring out the mittens to protect the fingers from the cold nip in the air.

Although we can protect our fingers and our body from the cold by wearing appropriate warm clothing, we are unable to protect our lungs and health from the Woodsmoke pollution present in many urban neighbourhoods.

Noticeable Woodsmoke swirling about from rooftop chimneys and silver stacks present urban pollution that is ranked as a known threat to human health. Woodsmoke contains toxic chemicals. Fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) when inhaled go deeply into the lungs causing damage to our cells.

Wood burning stoves, wood burning fireplaces, pellet stoves, OWBs (Outdoor Wood Boilers) and outdoor open air burning contribute to the Woodsmoke polluted air in our urban and surrounding areas.

We can protect our children from winter’s wrath but unless our communities take pro-active action to end/ban/prohibit the use of all wood fuelled devices and appliances, people will continue to suffer the ravages of not only cancer but many woodsmoke-related illnesses such as Asthma, COPD, and heart disease, among others.

The young, fragile elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions are more vulnerable to the toxins from Woodsmoke pollution. Even the healthy are affected by the toxic chemicals in woodsmoke.

It is time to bring out the mittens and it is time that our municipal leaders take immediate pro-active action to protect all residents from the known harm of Woodsmoke pollution.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

October 28, 2013

Blaze damages Saranac home

 

BY AMY HEGEN, CONTRIBUTING WRITER Press-Republican

Posted: October 28, 2013

 

SARANAC — The exterior of a residence at 77 No. 37 Road was already ablaze when firefighters arrived just past 8 p.m. Saturday.

Although no one was injured during the fire at the home of Keith Tedford and his wife, the family lost their dog in the blaze, said Saranac Volunteer Fire Department Lt. James Terry. 

Mr. Tedford was the only person home when he went to check the wood boiler and noticed the building was on fire,Terry said.

Saranac, Cadyville, AuSable Forks, Morrisonville, Lyon Mountain, Ellenburg Depot, South Plattsburgh and Dannemora fire departments responded, while Bloomingdale, District 3 and Peru fire departments were on standby. Approximately 30 firefighters were on scene. 

The fire trucks were en route quickly, but the location of the home meant it took longer for their arrival.

“It’s at the furthest end of our district, up in a rural area,” Terry said. 

The back northwest corner of the house and the basement near the outdoor wood boiler were in flames when the firefighters arrived, and the fire had spread to the inside.

Terry said he believes the structure is a total loss and the cause of the fire was the wood boiler, although it’s still under investigation.

“Once we got water flowing, it took about an hour and a half to get it under control,” Terry said. 

The property was insured, and the Tedfords are staying with family, Terry said.

The fire department was back in service at about 1:30 a.m.

Full Article: CLICK HERE 

October 27, 2013

Long story short

Source: Times Union

By: TU Editorial Board

Sunday, October 27, 2013

 

Time to clear the air 

The may look warm and rustic, but some outdoor wood boilers pose a significant health threat, emitting far more soot than other residential wood heaters and up 1,800 times the emissions of gas furnaces.

New York’s decision to join six other states to force federal regulators to simply enforce the Clean Air Act is the right move. Newer technologies can help substantially, but only if they are used.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

October 23, 2013

RF firefighters deal with night fire

By Phil Pfuehler on Oct 23, 2013 at 2:01pm

 

A town of River Falls shed near a two-car garage caught fire Tuesday night, Oct. 22, just before 10 p.m. 

The River Falls Fire Department was sent to the property of Dave Kusilek, 1075th 690thAve., just east of County Road E.

Prescott’s fire department was called for mutual aid to provide extra water. That call was soon canceled. 

Fire Chief Scott Nelson said the blaze appeared to have started around an outdoor wood boiler.

The fire was put out in an hour, though firefighters stayed to clean up and douse hot spots for about two hours. 

The shed, described as a 24 by 28 foot structure, was badly burned on the south end. No damage estimate was available.

“Care must be taken when firing up wood-burning appliances, especially for the first time each season,” Nelson said. 

Almost two weeks ago River Falls firefighters were called to another shed fire at night in the town of Troy on Swedish Mission Road. The fire was extinguished but the shed was a total loss.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

October 24, 2013 (opinion)

Outdoor wood-fired boiler problem continues

Source: Herald Argues

Published: Thursday, October 24, 2013 5:05 PM CDT

 

We also have problems folks. For a moment, forget about Washington, let us look, locally, at the shameful disregard of our elected officials for the problems they cannot seem to solve in their own backyard. 

The outdoor wood-fired boiler problem was brought to the attention of every elected official on the local, regional and national level. Yet no significant, enforceable action was taken.

You plead with them, you provide them with the science that proves what you are saying is true and they just turn their backs to you. This includes our health department, the papers, the commissioners, the state representatives, etc. 

Please understand that this issue goes back to October 2004, when the county had less than 10 OWBs in operation. Sounds like Washington: Let the issue drown and then try to save it. What other issues have they looked the other way on since 2004?

One has to wonder how these appointed and elected people could be so complacent with the health and welfare of the very residents who elect them to into office and pay their salaries. 

Washington has their lobbyist. What could we possibly have in La Porte County that warrants them turning their backs on us? If you have the answer, I would love to hear it.

The 150-plus OWBs will be operating again this heating season. We hope you stay well. Maybe the wind will blow in another direction – away from you and your loved ones.

– James Donnelly 

La Porte

Full Article: CLICK HERE

October 16, 2013 (radio)

NY sues EPA over wood boiler regulations

Source: North Country Public Radio

Published: Oct 16, 2013

 

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says it was necessary to sue the Environmental Protection Agency to try to get better national rules governing wood boiler furnaces.

Schneiderman spoke yesterday on the program Capital Pressroom. 

"It seems very very clear to us that we had to force the EPA to take action. They enacted legislation in 1988 that only covered wood stoves. It did not cover wood boilers, which are actually a much bigger problem."

A total of seven states joined the suit, including Vermont.  New York moved to regulate some outdoor wood boilers two years ago.  But Schneiderman says there's still a need for tighter national regulations. 

"The standards for how much pollution should be coming out of a wood boiler now should be a lot tougher because there is a lot of new technology that burns a lot cleaner."

A spokeswoman for the EPA told the Associated Press that they're still reviewing the suit. 

Schneiderman says unregulated old-technology wood boilers produce a significant amount of pollution across the US.

The suit also argues that national standards would make cleaner stoves more affordable and more widely available in states like New York.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

October 12, 2013

EPA Sued For Wood Heater Emissions

By North Country Gazette On October 12, 2013

 

NEW YORK – Leading a coalition of seven states, New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the filing of a lawsuit against the federal Environmental Protection Agency for violating the Clean Air Act by failing to adequately limit air pollution emissions from new residential wood heaters.

In the legal papers, Schneiderman’s coalition contends that the EPA’s existing emissions limits, which haven’t been revised in 25 years, are outdated and leave out popular types of residential wood heaters — including outdoor wood boilers, which have proliferated in many areas of New York. 

“EPA’s regulations simply haven’t kept pace with the proliferation of wood-burning devices or the availability of cleaner-burning units.  Smoke from residential wood-burning heaters poses a serious health threat, especially in New York’s rural communities,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “This lawsuit aims to force the EPA to comply with the Clean Air Act and provide overdue leadership in requiring new wood heaters to meet stricter pollution standards – an action that will save consumers money, improve local air quality and safeguard public health.”

Wood smoke contains several pollutants, including fine particulate matter (soot), that are linked to serious public health impacts, including asthma attacks, heart attacks and premature death.  Wood smoke can also cause short-term effects such as eye, nose, throat and lung irritation and shortness of breath. According to recent EPA data, soot emitted from wood-burning devices comprises 13 percent of all soot pollution in the country.  Moreover, several studies have found that residential wood combustion is responsible for potentially dangerous short-term spikes in soot air pollution, especially in rural areas. 

Under the Clean Air Act, EPA must set pollution emission limits, called New Source Performance Standards or NSPS, for categories of emission sources that “cause, or contribute significantly to, air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health and welfare.”  Importantly, the agency must review and, as appropriate, revise these limits at least every eight years to ensure they keep pace with advances in pollution control technologies. The limits apply to new or substantially modified sources

In 1988, EPA concluded that pollutants in wood smoke endanger public health and that residential wood heaters must be regulated under the Clean Air Act’s NSPS provision. That same year, the agency set a NSPS limit for soot emissions by these devices. At the same time, EPA exempted heating devices that fall under the category of “boilers.” These 1988 standards remain on the books today, despite the development of much cleaner-burning stoves and the proliferation of outdoor wood boilers for residential heating. 

A 2008 study by the New York State Attorney General’s Office’s Environmental Protection Bureau found that outdoor wood boilers emit far more soot than other residential wood heaters—about 12 times as much soot as EPA-certified wood stoves, 1,000 times as much as oil furnaces and 1,800 times as much as gas furnaces. According to the report, the annual rate of outdoor wood boiler sales in the state probably increased threefold between 1999 and 2007, with an estimated 14,500 units sold in the state during those years.

Since the adoption of NSPS limits in 1988, three eight-year review periods mandated by the Clean Air Act have come and gone (1996, 2004, 2012) without the agency completing even one review of the limits.  In the absence of EPA limits, the agency has established a voluntary program to encourage the purchase of cleaner-burning outdoor wood boilers. However, that program has not proven effective.

Joining Attorney General Schneiderman in the suit filed today are the states of Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont, as well as the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.  The coalition’s suit, which was filed today in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., asks the court to find the EPA in violation of the Clean Air Act and order the agency to promptly review, propose and adopt necessary updates to the NSPS for residential wood heaters as required by the act.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

October 12, 2013

State joins push for update of wood heat rules

Staff Report: Rutland Herald

Posted: October 12,2013

 

MONTPELIER — Vermont has joined seven other states in a federal lawsuit seeking to force the Environmental Protection Agency to review and revise emission standards for new residential wood-burning heaters.

The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to review and rewrite as needed the standards at least every eight years. Vermont and other states say the EPA has not done so on three occasions in the past 25 years, according to the suit filed in Washington. 

“All we’re doing is asking EPA to basically do what they’re supposed to do under the Clean Air Act ...,” said Vermont Assistant Attorney General Scot Kline.

The states argue that wood-burning heaters have proliferated in that time frame. And technology has improved to better limit harmful emissions. But standards for wood heaters have not been updated. 

The emissions can lead to health problems. Updated standards are needed to protect public health, Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell said in a statement.

“Wood smoke contains pollutants that are linked to serious health effects, including cardiovascular and respiratory problems. EPA’s standards are outdated and do not even cover outdoor wood boilers,” Sorrell said. “Vermonters burn a significant amount of wood, and the federal standard should reflect technological advances that make wood burners more cost-effective and environmentally friendly.” 

According to the EPA, fine particulate matter emitted from wood heaters made up 13 percent of all the particulate pollution in the U.S. in 2008. The agency estimated that outdoor wood boilers will produce more than 20 percent of emissions from wood burning by 2017.

The standards, according to the attorney general’s office, apply to new residential wood heaters. The lawsuit will not affect those already in use. 

The states, led by New York, also include Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon and Rhode Island. Sorrell’s office said the Agency of Natural Resources is assisting in the case.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

October 11, 2013

Seven States Just Sued The EPA For Failing To Update Standards For Wood-Burning Furnaces

By Jeff Spross  on October 11, 2013 at 12:45 pm

 

Seven states and the group Earthjustice have filed two related lawsuits against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failing to update emissions standards for wood-burning boilers.

It’s an often overlooked environmental concern. The boilers resemble outhouses with chimneys, and are used to heat water that’s piped into a home’s radiator system. Along with furnaces and other wood-burning sources, they emit soot — a potentially dangerous pollutant that falls under the under the regulatory authority of the Clean Air Act’s New Source Performance Standards.

The seven states are New York, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont, and Earthjustice’s lawsuit is on behalf of the American Lung Association, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Clean Air Council, and Environment and Human Health, Inc. According to the complaint, which was filed Wednesday, the EPA is required by the Clean Air Act to review standards for air pollution that can endanger health every eight years. But the last time the EPA updated the emission limits for wood-burning sources was back in 1988, when they found that pollutants in wood smoke endanger public health. But the EPA exempted heating devices from standards, including wood-heaters, the same year. So the lawsuits call on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to order EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to review and revise the standards, and to bring heating devices into the rules. The revisions would only cover new units, and would not affect existing sources. 

“The EPA set the current standards for wood-burning devices more than a quarter century ago, years before the first of the landmark studies that demonstrated that particles like those that make up woodsmoke can be deadly,” said Janice Nolen, Assistant Vice President, National Policy, for the American Lung Association. “Since then, research into the pollutants from wood-burning has grown rapidly. EPA has abundant evidence that the standards from a generation ago endanger public health.”

Wood smoke includes pollutants that research has linked to asthma attacks, heart attacks, and premature death, according to a study by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s Office in 2008. The burners that aren’t as clean or advanced can release particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, hazardous air pollutants, and carcinogens, especially in wintertime when their use obviously ramps up. Data recently released by the EPA showed that soot from wood-heaters accounts for 13 percent of all the soot pollution in the country. 

The wood boilers have become popular for residential heating in the Northeast, Northwest and Midwest, and thousands are installed by homeowners each year. Schneiderman’s office estimates that 14,500 outdoor wood boilers were sold just in New York state between 1999 and 2007. “We’ve seen the market for outdoor boilers expand over the past two decades and over 10,000 units are sold each year,” said David Presley, Staff Attorney at the Clean Air Council. “EPA and the industry developed voluntary outdoor wood boiler standards in 2010, but most devices sold fail to meet even these voluntary standards.”

Several of the states involved in the lawsuit have far more stringent state-level standards for the wood-fired boilers and furnaces than the EPA, and have even banned them in some instances. New York state, for example, adopted regulations in April 2011 that all new models sold in the state must burn at least 90 percent cleaner than older models. But a plan to expand the rules to existing boilers was put on hold by public opposition, particularly in the state’s northern rural areas where farms and homes that regularly rely on the heaters would need to pay thousands of dollars to replace them. Washington State’s standards for wood-burning devices are 40 percent more stringent than the EPA’s current standards.

EPA’s own data shows that many current devices far surpass even the Washington standards. Some widely-sold wood-burning devices, such as large outdoor wood boilers, are not covered at all by EPA’s current standards. 

The lack of equivalent national standards puts the local industries and businesses involved in wood furnaces and boilers in the more stringent states at a disadvantage. So the states in the lawsuit see national standards as a matter of fair play and a level playing field,” making less-polluting wood heaters more widely available in all states.

An EPA spokeswoman said Wednesday that the agency is reviewing the lawsuit.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

October 10, 2013 (video)

Oregon joins suit against EPA over wood burning regulations

By Tom Adams, KVAL Published: Oct 10, 2013 at 12:39 PM PD

 

OAKRIDGE, Ore. -- Oregon is one of seven states that filed suit against the Federal Environmental Protection Agency Wednesday over the potentially damaging pollution that comes from wood-fired stoves and heaters used to heat homes.

The lawsuit would order the EPA to update their regulations on wood-fired boilers, a form of residential heating that have been banned from some states.

The agency still operates under federal standards for wood stove emissions that were set back in 1988 that don't account for the soot produced by new wood burning devices. Lane Regional Air Protection Agency Director Merlyn Hough said the lawsuit will help establish long-term enforcement programs. 

State officials backing the lawsuit said that the EPA's 25 years of inaction violates the Clean Air Act.

Hough said the suit won't affect local efforts to lower wood stove emissions and LRAPA's enforcing wood burning on designated red days this coming winter.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

October 10, 2013

Inside The Capitol: A Battle to Breathe

Written by Susan Arbetter, City and State NY 

Posted: October 10, 2013.

 

John and Bonnie Lichak’s kitchen table is covered with stacks of paperwork. Each pile represents a chapter in their nine year battle with local, state and federal government agencies over what they call their neighbor’s “smoke-belching wood boiler.” 

Conventional wood boilers aren’t unusual in upstate New York, where wood is cheap and abundant. According to NYSERDA, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, a wood boiler, or hydronic heater, has a firebox surrounded by a water jacket. Wood is burned inside the firebox and heats the water, which is then circulated by pipes to the heat distribution system (radiators) of the home. There are different boiler designs for use outdoors and indoors.

When the Lichaks moved to the Village of East Nassau in rural Rensselaer County in 1985, they had never heard of a wood boiler. In 2002, when new neighbors moved in next door, the Lichaks quickly became educated. 

“What happened? We introduced ourselves. We were friendly. Then in 2004 [they] installed an outdoor wood boiler,” recalls Bonnie Lichak.

Outdoor wood boilers are designed to burn wood and some other fuls, but unlike gasification boilers, wood stoves or fireplaces, conventional wood boilers burn at very low temperatures, allowing the wood to smolder and smoke. The result for the Lichaks was that they started getting smoked out of their home. 

Their health suffered. They stopped using their pool. Raking leaves became difficult. To address the issue, they contacted an alphabet soup of state and federal agencies including the DEC, EPA, NYSERDA, DOH and DOS. (Each agency has its own designated pile on the Lichaks’ kitchen table.) The fight became Bonnie’s second full-time job. The family gave over their weekends and their evenings to the cause.

To give you a sense of how long the Lichaks have waged this battle, some of the paperwork goes back to when Eliot Spitzer was attorney general. 

The battle also became personal. The son of the neighbor with the wood boiler posted a threatening note on a YouTube page featuring Bonnie Lichak’s 2010 testimony at a DEC hearing.

According to the Lichaks, he also called their daughter “a slut.” 

“She was 11,” says Bonnie Lichak.

The neighbors refused to speak with a reporter. 

In 2010, after a multiyear battle, the neighbor was forced to remove his outdoor wood boiler by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

On Feb. 2 of that year the DEC sent an Order on Consent stating the boiler would have to be shut down by April. 

Bonnie Lichak describes the days leading up to the shutdown.

“[They] burned anything and everything. There was blue smoke and green smoke. Our neighbor Mr. Hamilton came to the top of the hill to look because he no doubt thought our house was on fire because of the amount of smoke. We endured it because we thought the nightmare was finally over.” 

It wasn’t. The Lichaks’ victory was short-lived.

“Now they have an indoor wood boiler,” Bonnie Lichak said. “A Harman Trident SF-160. It cycles on and off because it has a damper. It’s bad. It makes ya sick.” 

The DEC informed the Lichaks that it doesn’t have the authority to regulate indoor wood boilers.

A study done for NYSERDA in 2008 reported that residential wood smoke is a significant source of pollution in many rural areas of the United States, contributing over 90% of total carbon-containing particulate emissions in rural areas of New York. 

Adam Acquario, Deputy Mayor of East Nassau, confirms the Lichaks have a legitimate complaint. “It is an issue for them,” he says. “Absolutely.”

The Lichaks are frustrated, wondering why none of the regulatory agencies they have contacted will take action. 

Of their two state representatives, only one has been responsive: State Sen. Kathy Marchione. She has requested information on the Lichaks’ situation from the DEC.

Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin’s office never responded to this reporter’s repeated calls. 

Should anyone decide to tackle the issue, there is a legislative fix.

“There oughta be a law like the laws that Oregon and Washington have to hold wood boilers to the same standards as wood stoves. The EPA has a loophole, which they haven’t closed in 17 years. If New York State would just pass a law like those other states have done, other people wouldn’t have to go through what we’ve gone through, ” says Bonnie Lichak. 

In 2011 the New York State DEC enacted stricter air pollution regulations for new outdoor wood furnaces. But indoor wood boilers like the one plaguing the Lichaks weren’t addressed. The new regulations also allowed previously installed outdoor wood boilers to continue being used.

“To have the [DEC] Air Resources staff talk about my neighbor’s economics versus the environment is astounding to me. DEC caused a lot of economic suffering by all [its] inability to promulgate health protective public policy,” Lichak wrote. “It is shameful.” 

It is also legal.

Bill Cooke of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment shares one possible explanation. “It’s legal because [wood boiler manufacturers] have good lobbyists.” 

One of those lobbyists is the New York Farm Bureau. Policy Director Jeff Williams says the Lichaks’ situation is unusual. “There are hundreds, if not thousands, of outdoor wood boiler owners who live on large tracts of land, and they are not causing a problem for anyone, and they are heating their house for free.”

When presented with the Lichaks’ dilemma, Williams was sympathetic, but he placed blame for their predicament on the DEC’s doorstep.

“First of all, I think they do have the authority for any air quality problems in the state … We don’t want to see anyone have health impacts. One of the things we do agree with the environmentalists on—that report notwithstanding—is that DEC’s staffing needs to increase for not only this but a whole host of other staffing issues that we see would help the environment and farming in the state.”

Perhaps surprisingly, the Albany-based lobbyist for a large wood boiler company admits that the units cannot be installed just anywhere. Philip H. Gitlen, Esq. is the co– managing partner in the Albany law firm of Whiteman Osterman & Hanna, and outside counsel to Central Boiler. Gitlen states that the industry must rely on the good sense of the people who purchase their products.

“Central Boiler requires that [people who buy wood boilers] acknowledge what the local requirements are on setbacks, on installation, on locations and the like, and that they represent and warrant to the company that they are going to comply with them.”

For some environmentalists like Citizens Campaign’s Bill Cooke, there is no middle ground. 

“The truth is that wood boilers are bad for people downwind. We’re talking about heating the way they did 10,000 years ago!” Comparing a wood stove and wood boiler is like comparing a Prius and a Humvee, Cooke says.

But Gitlen argues if you need more than one wood stove, a single state-of-the-art wood boiler would be less polluting to the environment. 

The regulations are murky, but Gitlen, Williams and the Lichaks all believe the DEC has the authority to shut down the offending wood boiler if it chooses to flex its muscles; the agency is simply choosing not to do so. At the same time there is a sense that DEC is in a holding pattern, waiting for long-delayed EPA regulations for wood boilers. If that’s the case, the agency isn’t alone in waiting.

“Soot pollution is linked to long-term respiratory disease,” said Peter Iwanowicz, a former DEC commissioner under Gov. David Paterson who is now director of the Healthy Air Campaign with the American Lung Association. “It can be a respiratory irritant for people who have lung disease now, like kids who have asthma. And if you have underlying heart disease, the science says that a couple hours of exposure to heavy soot emissions could trigger a second heart attack and kill you.” 

Iwanowicz is among those experts who contend that wood boilers burn less efficiently than wood stoves or even fireplaces, so the quantity of pollution they emit is much higher. He also speculates that some owners may burn illegal substances— like tires and garbage—since they can do so in the privacy of their own yards.

“That’s a problem,” says Iwanowicz. “The ALA has filed a notice of intent to sue EPA to get at that very issue federally because we don’t see states acting fast enough. EPA is supposed to update standards every eight years. They haven’t done it in nearly a quarter of a century, so we’re getting ready to take action on all these devices: wood stoves, indoor versions of these devices and, of course, outdoor ones. It’s time to clean them up.” 

The Lung Association isn’t alone in this effort. New York’s attorney general and seven others states’ AGs have also put the EPA on notice that they want standardized laws governing residential wood burning heaters. They will decide whether to take action against the EPA in the first week of October.

Bonnie Lichak doesn’t want to get her hopes up. 

“Nine years of bureaucratic nonsense. Multiple levels of government. Laws they will not enforce. We hired a lawyer for the outdoor wood boiler and consulted other people on the indoor unit. We simply do not have the money they want to do air studies and go to court. We have been advised it could cost as much as $60,000. So we are just trying to get government to do its job.”

The fall foliage is just about at peak. For most of us this season is one of the joys of living in the northeast. For the Lichaks, their annual battle to breathe is just a few weeks away.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

October 10, 2013

EPA Sued Over Outdoor Heaters Spewing Soot

Health issues growing as wood furnaces become more commonplace

By: Raviya Ismail

October 10, 2013, 11:32 AM , Earth Justice Blog

 

Many Americans are looking to escape high heating bills and have found what seems to be the perfect solution: outdoor wood boilers. Commonplace now along rural roads, they look like sheds with chimneys on top, and circulate water into homes for heating systems or hot water.

But they aren't as innocuous as they may look. Which is why Earthjustice, on behalf of several health and environmental groups, filed a lawsuit Wednesday over the EPA’s failure to update standards for these units. But we aren't the only ones crying foul. Filing a similar complaint were the states of New York, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency. 

The issue in a nutshell: these units emit high volumes of particulate matter (which can lodge deep within the lungs causing serious cardiovascular and respiratory harm) carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, hazardous air pollutants and carcinogens. We know all these chemicals are toxic soup for our lungs and health. And EPA’s failure to update the standards means that homeowners install thousands of new wood-burning boilers, furnaces and stoves each year that produce far more dangerous air pollution than cleaner units would.

In fact, according to this Albany Times Union story, in 2008 the New York attorney general's office found that outdoor wood boilers emit far more soot than other residential wood heaters, about 12 times as much soot as EPA-certified wood stoves, 1,000 times as much as oil furnaces, and 1,800 times as much as gas furnaces. 

What we are seeking in our lawsuit is essentially for the EPA to fulfill its obligations under the Clean Air Act. The agency determined in 1987 that these units "contribute significantly to air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health and welfare", and the law requires the EPA to review emissions standards for such health harming sources of air pollution every eight years. Under the law, the EPA should have reviewed and updated the standards in 1996, 2004 and 2012.

Here is what Tim Ballo, the Earthjustice attorney handling this case, had to say about the lawsuit: 

“Woodsmoke from these devices is a significant source of dangerous fine particulate matter and because they emit close to the ground and their use is concentrated in certain areas including the Northeast, Northwest and Midwest, they have an enormous impact on wintertime air quality in those areas. The EPA needs to update its standards, which fail to cover the most heavily polluting types of wood burning equipment.”

Full Article: CLICK HERE

October 10, 2013

Health and Environmental Groups Challenge EPA to Update Clean Air Standards for New Wood Boilers and Furnaces

Press Release: EarthJustice

Published October 10, 2013

 

Washington, D.C.  — 

On Wednesday, national health and environmental groups filed a legal challenge to require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to update clean air standards that limit emissions from new outdoor wood boilers, furnaces and other similar sources that discharge large volumes of smoke and soot. This review is 17 years overdue, resulting in increased exposure to harmful smoke and soot in communities across the nation despite the wide availability of cleaner technologies.

Earthjustice, on behalf of the American Lung Association, Environmental Defense Fund, Clean Air Council, and Environment and Human Health, Inc., filed a lawsuit over the EPA’s failure to update emissions standards for new wood-burning boilers, furnaces and other similar high-emitting sources of dangerous soot as required by the Clean Air Act. The complaint filed Wednesday asks the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to order EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to review and revise the standards. Filing a similar complaint were the states of New York, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.

“Woodsmoke from these devices is a significant source of dangerous fine particulate matter and because they emit close to the ground and their use is concentrated in certain areas including the Northeast, Northwest and Midwest, they have an enormous impact on wintertime air quality in those areas,” said Tim Ballo, attorney for Earthjustice. “The EPA needs to update its standards, which fail to cover the most heavily polluting types of wood burning equipment.”

When the EPA last set pollution limits on new wood-burning devices in 1988, the Agency determined that these devices “contribute significantly to air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health and welfare.” The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to review emissions standards for health harming sources of air pollution every 8 years. Under the law, the EPA should have reviewed and updated the standards in 1996, 2004 and 2012.

EPA’s failure to update the standards means that homeowners install thousands of new wood-burning boilers, furnaces and stoves each year that produce far more dangerous air pollution than cleaner units would. Emissions from high polluting devices include particulate matter, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, hazardous air pollutants and carcinogens. The revised standards would only apply to new units, and would not affect existing sources.

“The EPA set the current standards for wood-burning devices more than a quarter century ago, years before the first of the landmark studies that demonstrated that particles like those that make up woodsmoke can be deadly,” said Janice Nolen, Assistant Vice President, National Policy, for the American Lung Association. “Since then, research into the pollutants from wood-burning has grown rapidly. EPA has abundant evidence that the standards from a generation ago endanger public health.”

“Wood stoves and boilers are a significant source of harmful particulates and toxic hydrocarbons,” said Elena Craft, Environmental Defense Fund Health Scientist. “Rigorous, health-protective standards for new stoves and boilers are both long overdue and urgently needed to protect families and communities around the country whose health is impacted by wood smoke emissions.”

“We’ve seen the market for outdoor boilers expand over the past two decades and over 10,000 units are sold each year,” said David Presley, Staff Attorney, Clean Air Council. “EPA and the industry developed voluntary outdoor wood boiler standards in 2010, but most devices sold fail to meet even these voluntary standards.”

EPA’s standards of performance do not reflect improvements in technology available widely today. For example, the State of Washington requires wood-burning devices to meet PM emission standards that are 40 percent more stringent than EPA’s standards. Moreover, EPA’s own data shows that many current devices far surpass even the Washington standards. Some widely-sold wood-burning devices, such as large outdoor wood boilers, are not covered at all by EPA’s current standards.

“Until EPA acts, the wood smoke from these devices will continue to enter the houses of all those who live near them, causing families to lose their health as well as the value of their homes," explained Nancy Alderman, Environment and Human Health, Inc. “The EPA cannot continue to allow so many citizens to be made sick because they have not acted, as the law requires, to set new air emission standards that keep pace with improving technology.”

Full Article: CLICK HERE

To read the complaint filed to the U.S. EPA: CLICK HERE

October 10, 2013

7 States Sue EPA Over Wood-Fired Boilers

By: Mary Esch

Published: Oct 10, 2013, 8:50 AM EDT Associated Press

 

ALBANY, N.Y. — New York, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont are asking the EPA to tighten rules for outdoor wood-fired boilers. 

The states have sued the Environmental Protection Agency over health-damaging air pollution. The boilers have become popular for residential heating.

The lawsuit asks a federal court to order EPA to review and adopt updated emissions limits for the boilers, which have been banned in some states and are strictly regulated in others. 

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said the EPA's existing emissions limits haven't been updated in 25 years and cover wood stoves but not wood boilers. Schneiderman cited EPA data saying emissions from wood-burning devices account for 13 percent of all soot pollution in the nation.

Soot is linked to public health problems, including asthma, heart attacks and premature death. 

An EPA spokeswoman said Wednesday that the agency is reviewing the lawsuit.

New York state adopted regulations in April 2011 to require all new wood-fired boilers sold in the state to burn at least 90 percent cleaner than older models. A plan to extend the rules to existing boilers was shelved after a public outcry, particularly in rural areas of northern New York where numerous farms and homes that rely on the heaters would be forced to pay thousands of dollars to replace them. 

An outdoor wood-fired boiler, which resembles an outhouse with a chimney, heats water that's piped to the home's radiator system. While the devices are exempt from EPA emissions regulations, some states and municipalities have banned them because of air pollution concerns. Others have used subsidies to get people to switch to newer, cleaner-burning boilers.

In court papers, the coalition of states said national standards are needed to level the playing field so less-polluting wood heaters become more widely available in all states. 

The lawsuit seeks updated standards for indoor wood stoves as well as the inclusion of other categories of wood heaters, including both indoor and outdoor wood boilers.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

October 10, 2013

AG sues EPA over wood-burning devices

By Richie Davis Recorder Staff

Published: Thursday, October 10, 2013

 

The state Attorney General’s Office, together with attorneys general from six other states, are suing the federal government to begin regulating outdoor wood-burning boilers and to toughen regulations on residential wood-burning devices.

Attorney General Martha Coakley has joined with her counterparts from Connecticut, Vermont, New York, Rhode Island, Oregon and Maryland, along with the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency in Washington, in suing the Environmental Protection Agency for violating the Clean Air Act by failing to adequately limit air pollution emissions from new residential wood heaters.

“We are simply asking that the EPA take the common sense step to update their regulations to limit dangerous pollutants. These changes would go into effect for new wood heaters, and have major benefits to improve air quality and promote public health,” said a statement from Coakley’s office. 

The same suit was also filed jointly by the American Lung Association, Environmental Defense Fund, Clean Air Council, and Environment and Human Health Inc.

Wednesday’s states’ filing in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., led by New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, contends that the EPA’s existing emissions limits, which haven’t been revised in 25 years, are outdated and leave out outdoor wood boilers. 

“The EPA’s regulations simply haven’t kept pace with the proliferation of wood-burning devices or the availability of cleaner-burning units. Smoke from residential wood-burning heaters poses a serious health threat,” said Schneiderman. “This lawsuit aims to force the EPA to comply with the Clean Air Act and provide overdue leadership in requiring new wood heaters to meet stricter pollution standards — an action that will save consumers money, improve local air quality and safeguard public health.”

The Clean Air Act mandates the EPA to set pollution emission limits for categories of emission sources that “cause, or contribute significantly to, air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health and welfare.” The agency must review and, as appropriate, revise these limits at least every eight years to ensure they keep pace with advances in pollution control technologies.

In 1988, the EPA concluded that pollutants in wood smoke endanger public health and that residential wood heaters must be regulated. The agency also set a performance standard limit for soot emissions by these devices but exempted heating devices that fall under the category of “boilers.” These 1988 standards remain on the books today, despite development of much cleaner-burning stoves and the proliferation of outdoor wood boilers for residential heating, the states contend.

The attorneys general cite a 2008 report that outdoor wood boilers can emit about 12 times more particulates than EPA-certified wood-burning stoves, 1,000 times as much as oil furnaces and 1,800 times as much as gas furnaces.

The agency was not able to respond because of the federal shutdown, but it issued a statement last month saying that its draft revisions to the new standards for residential wood heaters are now undergoing interagency review and that it plans to address outdoor wood-burning boilers in an upcoming proposal.

Wednesday’s filing asks the court to find the EPA in violation of the Clean Air Act and order it to promptly review, propose and adopt necessary updates to the standards for residential wood heaters, as required by the act.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

October 10, 2013

Oregon sues EPA on emissions

Seven states want limits on wood stoves, boilers

Source: Statesman Journal Written by: Staff and wire report

Published: Oct. 10, 2013

 

Oregon and six other states sued Wednesday to force the Environmental Protection Agency to adopt pollution limits for woodstoves and wood-fired boilers, both used for residential heating.

The states asked a federal court to order EPA to review and update the limits, which do not apply to some types of woodstoves and other heaters, and do not cover boilers. Limits are supposed to be revised every eight years, but the states allege that EPA has missed all three review periods since 1988. 

“This lawsuit will put pressure on EPA to comply with the Clean Air Act and provide overdue leadership in requiring new woodstoves to meet stricter pollution standards,” Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said in a statement. “That would save consumers money, improve local air quality, and safeguard public health.”

Other states in the lawsuit are New York, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont. The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency also is a party. 

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman cited EPA data saying emissions from wood-burning devices account for 13 percent of all soot pollution in the nation.

Soot is linked to public health problems, including asthma, heart attacks and premature death. 

An EPA spokeswoman said Wednesday that the agency is reviewing the lawsuit.

According to the Oregon Department of Justice, use of woodstoves accounts for 70 percent of pollutants in Klamath Falls and Oakridge, where the standard for fine particulates is violated. 

If EPA is ordered to adopt new and stricter standards, they would apply to new woodstoves and other devices.

Oregon took steps 30 years ago to require new woodstoves and other wood-burning devices to meet state certification requirements and to remove uncertified devices when a home is sold. 

The coalition of states said national standards are needed to level the playing field so that less-polluting wood heaters become more widely available in all states.

The lawsuit seeks updated standards for indoor woodstoves as well as the inclusion of other categories of wood heaters, including both indoor and outdoor wood boilers.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

October 10, 2013

Ore. joins suit over wood boiler rules

Source: Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce

Posted: October 10, 2013

 

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Seven states are suing the Environmental Protection Agency over health-damaging air pollution from outdoor wood-fired boilers that have become popular for residential heating. 

The lawsuit filed Wednesday asks a federal court to order EPA to review and adopt updated emissions limits for the boilers. The coalition includes New York, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

October 10, 2013

EPA sued over wood-burning boiler emissions

Source: Environmental Technology Online

Published: October 10, 2013

 

A lawsuit has been filed against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by seven US states relating to air pollution created by wood-fired boilers. The boilers have become a common form of heating for residential properties, resulting in high levels of air pollution that is damaging to human health. 

Connecticut, Oregon, New York, Massachusetts, Maryland, Rhode Island and Vermont have joined together to file the lawsuit, which calls for the EPA to update emissions limits for this form off boiler. The use of outdoor wood-fired boilers are closely regulated in some states and banned in others due to the levels of harmful air pollution they produce.

According to Eric Schneiderman, New York attorney general, the emissions' limits put in place by the EPA have not been revised or updated in 25 years. He continued to say that the current limits only cover wood stoves and do not have limits in place for wood boilers. Mr Schneiderman quoted the EPA's own data, which says that 13 percent of the soot pollution within the US is a result of wood burning devices.

The soot pollution that is created by wood burning devices has been linked to a number of human illnesses and health issues. It also contributes to climate change, which the world as a whole is working to reduce.

Mr Schneiderman said in a statement: “EPA’s regulations simply haven’t kept pace with the proliferation of wood-burning devices or the availability of cleaner-burning units. Smoke from residential wood-burning heaters poses a serious health threat, especially in New York’s rural communities. 

"This lawsuit aims to force the EPA to comply with the Clean Air Act and provide overdue leadership in requiring new wood heaters to meet stricter pollution standards – an action that will save consumers money, improve local air quality and safeguard public health.”

Although the EPA does not have any emissions limits in place concerning wood-burning boilers, they are banned or regulated by many states as a result of the large quantities of damaging air pollution they give off. Many states also offer subsidies to residents in an attempt to get them to switch to cleaner heating alternatives.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

October 9, 2013

Vermont sues EPA for failure to update standards for wood heaters

News Release — VT, Attorney General’s Office
October 9, 2013

Contact: Thea Schwartz, Assistant Attorney General

 

Vermont and seven other states filed a lawsuit in federal court today to force the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to review and revise its 1988 emission standards for new residential wood burning heaters. The Clean Air Act requires EPA to review and as needed revise the New Source Performance Standards (Standards) at least every eight years. EPA has not done so for 25 years. In those 25 years, there has been a substantial increase in the use of the heaters and, at the same time, advances in technology that enable the heaters to achieve much better emission rates. “Wood smoke contains pollutants that are linked to serious health effects, including cardiovascular and respiratory problems. EPA’s standards are outdated and do not even cover outdoor wood boilers,” Attorney General Bill Sorrell said. “Vermonters burn a significant amount of wood, and the federal standard should reflect technological advances that make wood burners more cost-effective and environmentally friendly,” he added.

According to EPA, fine particulate matter emitted from wood heaters comprised 13% of all particulate pollution in the United States in 2008. EPA estimates that outdoor wood boilers will produce more than 20% of emissions from wood burning by 2017. The Standards apply to new residential wood heaters and do not apply to those already in use. 

The states, led by New York, are Vermont, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Rhode Island.

The Attorney General is undertaking this action with the assistance and support of the Agency of Natural Resources.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

October 9, 2013

Red-blue split seen in wood-burning suit

By Phillip Swarts, The Washington Times

Posted: October 9, 2013

 

Eight states Wednesday sued the Environmental Protection Agency over what they say is the agency’s lax regulation of emissions from wood-burning heaters, the latest in a battle that’s pitting red states against blue states over how much influence interest groups wield at the agency. 

In the lawsuit, the state attorneys general maintain that the environmental regulatory office hasn’t properly enforced the Clean Air Act regarding pollution from wood burning.

“EPA’s 25-year-old standards are outdated, and do not cover outdoor wood boilers, a major source of air pollution in many communities,” said the lawsuit, filed by the attorneys general of New York, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont, as well as the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency. 

But the case has also called into question whether the lawsuit was filed at the prompting of the EPA itself.

In July, 12 other states claimed that the EPA is often working with environmental advocates to create regulatory controversies, then using the conflicts as justification for tightening environmental regulation and regulation in response. 

“This appears to be a blatant strategy by the EPA to go around the process and bend the rules to create environmental regulations that have failed in Congress,” said Oklahoma state Attorney General Scott Pruitt.

“If the EPA is making backdoor deals with environmental groups to push their agenda on the American people while bypassing the states and Congress, we need to know,” he continued. 

Mr. Pruitt has sued for more information from the EPA, and is being joined by the attorneys general of Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.

Holly Doremus, an environmental law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, said it’s not unusual for states to wrangle over regulation standards, with the EPA often caught in the middle. 

“Obviously, states that are more committed to environmental protection are more likely to file suit against EPA saying, ‘You’re not doing enough,’” said Ms. Doremus, who also serves as the co-director of Berkeley’s environmental law program.

“States are on both sides of pushing EPA to regulate more and pushing EPA to regulation less,” she said. 

Spokesmen for the EPA have been furloughed due to the federal shutdown, and could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said the current EPA regulations “simply haven’t kept pace with the proliferation of wood-burning devices or the availability of cleaner-burning units.” 

Outdoor wood boilers burn wood to heat water, which is then pumped inside to heat a house. Smoke and particulate matter from the boilers can often be dense.

The EPA estimates that soot from the wood-burning devices contributed to about 13 percent of fine-particle pollution in 2008. Exposure to fine particle pollution can lead to asthma, heart attacks or death, the agency said. 

In the lawsuit, the states say the problems are a particular problem in the Northwest, Northeast, and Midwest. The states were also joined in their lawsuit by a number of advocacy groups, including the American Lung Association, the Clean Air Council, the Environmental Defense Fund and Environment and Human Health, Inc.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

October 9, 2013

Smoky outdoor heaters draw legal fire

State joins court action against EPA for failure to tighten standards

By Brian Nearing

Published 9:37 pm, Wednesday, October 9, 2013

 

New York was among seven states that sued the federal government on Wednesday for ignoring federal law on air pollution standards for outdoor heaters that burn wood, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said.

The lawsuit claims that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ignored the Clean Air Act, which requires the EPA to periodically review and update air pollution limits for the heaters every eight years.

Since EPA imposed pollution limits for outdoor wood heaters in 1988, review periods have come and gone in 1996, 2004 and 2012 without any revision, even though advancing technology has made some heaters less polluting. EPA has a voluntary program to encourage heater makers to make less-polluting models. 

"EPA's regulations simply haven't kept pace with the proliferation of wood-burning devices or the availability of cleaner-burning units. Smoke from residential wood-burning heaters pose a serious health threat, especially in New York's rural communities," said Schneiderman.

Other states in the lawsuit are Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. The lawsuit seeks to force EPA to review its 1988 standards, and determine whether updates are needed. 

The lawsuit also faulted the EPA for not regulating outdoor heating boilers that are fired by wood, which have been exempted from the Clean Air Act since 1988.

In 2008, the attorney general's office found that outdoor wood boilers emit far more soot than other residential wood heaters — about 12 times as much soot as EPA-certified wood stoves, 1,000 times as much as oil furnaces, and 1,800 times as much as gas furnaces. 

According to the report, about 14,500 such boilers were sold in the state between 1999 and 2007.

Wood-fired heaters and boilers are used primarily in rural areas, where people heat with wood as a way to avoid expensive heating oil or other fuels. In 2011, New York state adopted its own tougher pollution rules for outdoor wood boilers. 

The American Lung Association of New York welcomed the state lawsuit. "We are pleased that legal action is being taken so they can finally update the long-overdue standard," said its Vice President Michael Seilback. "Cleaner standards will give New Yorkers cleaner air to breathe."

With other environmental groups, the association also filed a similar lawsuit on Wednesday against EPA over the wood heater standards, said Seilback. 

"The New York Farm Bureau supports the responsible use of wood boilers and the use of wood from one's own land," said bureau spokesman Steve Ammerman. "People should follow proper setbacks, burn only clean, dry wood, and follow the proper environmental and safety requirements. Wood boilers are used in rural areas, often times far from any neighbors, to heat homes, barns, or greenhouses, and burn a more affordable, renewable fuel source as opposed to oil-based heat."

Full Article: CLICK HERE

October 9, 2013

New York AG Schneiderman sues EPA over wood boilers/heaters

By Ned P. Rauch

Source: Politics on the Hudson

Posted: October 9, 2013 

 

New York’s attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, is trying to clear the air by suing the Environmental Protection Agency. Along with his counterparts from six other states, Schneiderman claims the EPA has failed to cap emissions from residential wood-burning heaters. That failure, the lawsuit contends, is a violation of the Clean Air Act.

“EPA’s regulations simply haven’t kept pace with the proliferation of wood-burning devices or the availability of cleaner-burning units,” Schneiderman said in a news release. “Smoke from residential wood-burning heaters poses a serious health threat, especially in New York’s rural communities. This lawsuit aims to force the EPA to comply with the Clean Air Act and provide overdue leadership in requiring new wood heaters to meet stricter pollution standards – an action that will save consumers money, improve local air quality and safeguard public health.” 

Wood smoke, in small doses, at least, smells nice and conjures thoughts of cozy autumn nights around the fire place. But it can also be an irritant and carries pollutants that, the AG says, are “linked to serious public health impacts, including asthma attacks, heart attacks and premature death.”

Wood-burning heaters and boilers, smoky though they may be, have their benefits, too. Chief among them: they don’t burn oil or gas. If you’ve got a bit of land and some trees to spare, you can harvest your own fuel. It’s not known how many outdoor wood furnaces there are in the Lower Hudson Valley; Schneiderman’s release cites a 2008 study that counted 14,500 outdoor wood boilers sold in New York between 1999 and 2007. 

Joining New York in the lawsuit are Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont. The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency is on board, too.

It might be some time before they get a response from the EPA. With the federal government shut down, agencies like the EPA are largely shuttered. 

Residents of the Putnam, Rockland and Westchester: Do you have a wood-fired, outdoor furnace? What do like/dislike about it? What are your thoughts on the lawsuit? Leave a note in the comments section or email me, Ned, at erauch@lohud.com.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

October 9, 2013

New York joins states in suing EPA over wood boilers

By: Ashley Hupfl, Albany Bureau

Posted: October 9, 2013

 

New York on Tuesday joined six other states in suing the federal Environmental Protection Agency for violating the Clean Air Act by failing to limit air pollution emissions from outdoor wood-heaters.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said the lawsuit claims that the existing 25-year-old EPA emission limits are outdated, not being enforced and leave out many types of outdoor residential wood-heaters. 

In 2010, the state Department of Environmental Conservation ordered that all new outdoor wood-heaters cut emissions by 90 percent. But EPA has not followed suit.

"EPA's regulations simply haven't kept pace with the proliferation of wood-burning devices or the availability of cleaner-burning units. Smoke from residential wood-burning heaters poses a serious health threat, especially in New York's rural communities," Schneiderman said in a statement. 

Wood smoke contains pollutants that are linked to public health impacts such as asthma attacks, heart attacks, and premature death, a study by the Attorney General's Office found in 2008.

Schneiderman's office estimated there were 14,500 outdoor wood boilers sold in New York between 1999 and 2007. 

Recent EPA data found that soot from the wood-heaters accounts for 13 percent of all soot pollution in the country.

In 1988, the EPA found that pollutants in wood smoke endanger public health and that residential wood-heaters must be regulated by the Clean Air Act's New Source Performance Standards. That same year, the EPA exempted heating devices from those emission standards, including wood-heaters. 

Under the Clean Air Act requirements, the EPA should have to enforce the pollution emission limits for wood-heaters and review and revise the limits at least every eight years. Since 1988, three eight-year mandated reviews have not been completed by the EPA, the lawsuit said.

There was no immediate comment from the EPA, which is closed due to the federal government shutdown. 

Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency joined the lawsuit, which was filed in Washington, D.C.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

October 9, 2013

Groups sue EPA over outdated furnace, boiler regs

By Ben Goad - 10/09/13 01:08 PM ET

 

A coalition of environmental and health groups filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday seeking to force the Environmental Protection Agency to issue updated regulations for wood-burning furnaces and boilers. 

The complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, contends that the EPA is required under the Clean Air Act to update emissions standards for outdoor boilers and furnaces that discharge dangerous amounts of woodsmoke.

Represented in the case by the legal team at EarthJustice, the American Lung Association, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Clean Air Council and Environment and Human Health Inc. contend that revised standards are 17 years overdue. 

The EPA is required under the statute to review emissions standards for wood furnaces and boilers every eight years, but the current regulations date back to 1988, the groups argue.

“The EPA set the current standards for wood-burning devices more than a quarter century ago, years before the first of the landmark studies that demonstrated that particles like those that make up woodsmoke can be deadly,” said Janice Nolen, assistant vice president for national policy at the American Lung Association. 

Woodsmoke contains carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, hazardous air pollutants and carcinogens, the groups argue in the suit. They are asking the court to order EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to issue a new set of standards.

The new regulations would only apply to new units, and would not affect existing boilers or furnaces. 

The states of New York, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont, along with the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, filed a similar lawsuit Wednesday.

The legal challenges accompany a decades-long expansion of the market for outdoor boilers. More than 10,000 units are sold annually, according to David Presley, staff attorney for the Clean Air Council. 

Most fail to meet a set of voluntary standards developed by the EPA and industry groups, Presley said.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

October 9, 2013

7 states sue EPA over residential wood boiler emissions rules, want air pollution reduced

By MARY ESCH  Associated Press

First Posted: October 09, 2013 - 5:02 pm

 

ALBANY, New York — Seven states filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against the Environmental Protection Agency over health-damaging air pollution from outdoor wood-fired boilers that have become popular for residential heating.

The lawsuit asks a federal court to order EPA to review and adopt updated emissions limits for the boilers, which have been banned in some states and are strictly regulated in others. The coalition includes New York, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont. 

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said the EPA's existing emissions limits haven't been updated in 25 years and cover wood stoves but not wood boilers. Schneiderman cited EPA data saying emissions from wood-burning devices account for 13 percent of all soot pollution in the nation.

Soot is linked to public health problems, including asthma, heart attacks and premature death. 

An EPA spokeswoman said Wednesday that the agency is reviewing the lawsuit.

New York state adopted regulations in April 2011 to require all new wood-fired boilers sold in the state to burn at least 90 percent cleaner than older models. A plan to extend the rules to existing boilers was shelved after a public outcry, particularly in rural areas of northern New York where numerous farms and homes that rely on the heaters would be forced to pay thousands of dollars to replace them. 

An outdoor wood-fired boiler, which resembles an outhouse with a chimney, heats water that's piped to the home's radiator system. While the devices are exempt from EPA emissions regulations, some states and municipalities have banned them because of air pollution concerns. Others have used subsidies to get people to switch to newer, cleaner-burning boilers.

In court papers, the coalition of states said national standards are needed to level the playing field so less-polluting wood heaters become more widely available in all states. 

The lawsuit seeks updated standards for indoor wood stoves as well as the inclusion of other categories of wood heaters, including both indoor and outdoor wood boilers.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

October 9, 2013

Seven states sue EPA over wood boiler rules

Source: WTVA

Posted: October 9, 2013

 

 

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A coalition of seven states is suing the Environmental Protection Agency over health-damaging air pollution from outdoor wood-fired boilers that have become popular for residential heating. 

The lawsuit filed Wednesday asks a federal court to order EPA to review and adopt updated emissions limits for the boilers. The coalition includes New York, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says the EPA's existing emissions limits haven't been updated in 25 years and leave out popular types of residential wood heaters. Schneiderman cited EPA data saying soot from wood-burning devices accounts for 13 percent of all soot pollution in the nation. 

Soot is linked to public health problems including asthma, heart attacks and premature death.

An EPA spokeswoman says the agency is reviewing the lawsuit.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

October 9, 2013

A.G. Schneiderman Leads Coalition Suing EPA for Failing to Adequately Limit Pollution from Residential Wood Heaters

Despite Clean Air Act Requirements, Agency’s Existing Limits Haven’t Been Updated in 25 Years; Ignore Outdoor Wood Boilers, One Of The Most Common And Polluting Devices; Schneiderman: Smoke From Residential Wood-Burning Heaters Poses A Serious Public Health Threat In New York Communities

For Immediate Release: October 9, 2013

Source: Long Island Press

 

(NEW YORK) Leading a coalition of seven states, New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced the filing of a lawsuit against the federal Environmental Protection Agency for violating the Clean Air Act by failing to adequately limit air pollution emissions from new residential wood heaters. In the legal papers, Schneiderman’s coalition contends that the EPA’s existing emissions limits, which haven’t been revised in 25 years, are outdated and leave out popular types of residential wood heaters — including outdoor wood boilers, which have proliferated in many areas of New York.

“EPA’s regulations simply haven’t kept pace with the proliferation of wood-burning devices or the availability of cleaner-burning units. Smoke from residential wood-burning heaters poses a serious health threat, especially in New York’s rural communities,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “This lawsuit aims to force the EPA to comply with the Clean Air Act and provide overdue leadership in requiring new wood heaters to meet stricter pollution standards – an action that will save consumers money, improve local air quality and safeguard public health.”

Wood smoke contains several pollutants, including fine particulate matter (soot), that are linked to serious public health impacts, including asthma attacks, heart attacks and premature death. Wood smoke can also cause short-term effects such as eye, nose, throat and lung irritation and shortness of breath. According to recent EPA data, soot emitted from wood-burning devices comprises 13 percent of all soot pollution in the country. Moreover, several studies have found that residential wood combustion is responsible for potentially dangerous short-term spikes in soot air pollution, especially in rural areas.

Under the Clean Air Act, EPA must set pollution emission limits, called New Source Performance Standards or NSPS, for categories of emission sources that “cause, or contribute significantly to, air pollution which may reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health and welfare.” Importantly, the agency must review and, as appropriate, revise these limits at least every eight years to ensure they keep pace with advances in pollution control technologies. The limits apply to new or substantially modified sources

In 1988, EPA concluded that pollutants in wood smoke endanger public health and that residential wood heaters must be regulated under the Clean Air Act’s NSPS provision. That same year, the agency set a NSPS limit for soot emissions by these devices. At the same time, EPA exempted heating devices that fall under the category of “boilers.” These 1988 standards remain on the books today, despite the development of much cleaner-burning stoves and the proliferation of outdoor wood boilers for residential heating.

A 2008 study by the New York State Attorney General’s Office’s Environmental Protection Bureau found that outdoor wood boilers emit far more soot than other residential wood heaters—about 12 times as much soot as EPA-certified wood stoves, 1,000 times as much as oil furnaces and 1,800 times as much as gas furnaces. According to the report, the annual rate of outdoor wood boiler sales in the state probably increased threefold between 1999 and 2007, with an estimated 14,500 units sold in the state during those years.

Since the adoption of NSPS limits in 1988, three eight-year review periods mandated by the Clean Air Act have come and gone (1996, 2004, 2012) without the agency completing even one review of the limits. In the absence of EPA limits, the agency has established a voluntary program to encourage the purchase of cleaner-burning outdoor wood boilers. However, that program has not proven effective.

Joining Attorney General Schneiderman in the suit filed today are the states of Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont, as well as the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency. The coalition’s suit, which was filed today in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., asks the court to find the EPA in violation of the Clean Air Act and order the agency to promptly review, propose and adopt necessary updates to the NSPS for residential wood heaters as required by the act.

The case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Michael Myers and Policy Analyst Jeremy Magliaro, under the supervision of Deputy Bureau Chief Lisa M. Burianek, Bureau Chief Lemuel M. Srolovic, Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice Alvin Bragg and First Deputy for Affirmative Litigation Janet Sabel.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

October 4, 2013

State airs proposed plan to clean up Wasatch Front pollution

By Amy Joi O'Donoghue, Deseret News

Published: Friday, Oct. 4 2013 1:40 p.m. MDT

 

SALT LAKE CITY — Anyone bothered by the Wasatch Front's dirty air and ugly winter inversions may want to weigh in on a pollution plan Utah regulators believe will get the state in compliance with federal clean air standards.

The Utah Division of Air Quality has released its State Implementation Plan for PM2.5, or fine particulate pollution, which is what drives the Wasatch Front air to be among the dirtiest in the nation during the winter months. 

"We think it is a good plan," said Bryce Bird, division director. "It's not perfect."

For the first time, Cache County is being required to put into place a vehicle inspection and emissions program, a whole host of businesses will face new emission regulations, and the state's five refineries in Salt Lake and Davis counties will have to upgrade to the best technology that is available. 

"We think we have come up with a plan that is reasonable and gets us to attainment," Bird said.

Close to two dozen new regulations have been approved by the Utah Air Quality Board aimed at curbing emissions from a variety of sources that include homes, small businesses, printing plants and auto body shops. 

Any product that emits a fume and contains volatile organic compounds, or VOCs — such as hairspray, varnishes, oven cleaning chemicals and brass polishes — will be required to have a lower VOC content when it hits the shelves in Utah, as is mandated in California and 15 Eastern states.

The division also banned the installation of any new wood boilers, or outdoor wood furnaces, along the Wasatch Front and put emission control requirements on fast-food restaurants that use chain-driven broilers to cook burgers.

Under part of the plan that remains under consideration, refineries will no longer be able to "flare" off gas but will have to install equipment to recover those emissions.

That will cost between $10,000 and $85,000, according to numbers submitted to the Division of Air Quality. One of the refineries, to control the release of its nitrogen oxides produced during combustion, will need to implement changes by 2019 that are estimated to cost $153,000 per ton of emissions. The change, however, will eliminate 106 tons of emissions per year from that refinery.

Cherise Udell, founder of Utah Moms for Clean Air, said the group lobbied for the new technology on refineries and is pleased regulators listened.

"Public pressure continues to mount on Utah's elected officials to take a stronger stance on air pollution," she said. "That public pressure, combined with oversight from the EPA, is moving Utah in the right direction, but not fast enough."

Other changes to industry under the latest component of the plan propose to tackle Kennecott Utah Copper, the largest industrial source of pollutants in Salt Lake County. The mining company will need to upgrade one of its boilers to cut a form of pollutants at a cost of about $8,000 per ton and move its haul trucks to cleaner burning engines by 2019. The truck change will cost between $50,000 and $70,000 a ton and remove a little more than 64 tons of that pollutant.

Throughout the rule-crafting process, Bird said the changes to bring the Wasatch Front under federal pollution limits by 2019 has not been easy, or without opposition from industry, businesses, hairstylists, auto body shop owners and residents.

"This has been a very difficult goal to meet," he said, "but the controls that were selected were those that were necessary to improve the air quality in our area."

Terry Mascaro, with the Utah Clean Air Alliance, said the plan does not go far enough.

"It is so obvious to us on the ground when we look at this," Mascaro said. "Government in Utah favors industry, and they should have had them step up to do the best control technology regardless of the cost." 

Bird said the plan gets the state into compliance with the federal threshold by imposing more stringent requirements that "reasonably" can be met by most businesses.

"The reasonable piece needs to be something that is implementable," he said. "If it becomes too cost-prohibitive, people won't do it." 

But Mascaro said the division should not allow businesses or industry to decide what is reasonable when clean air and public health is at issue.

The plan has been the most pressing priority since 2009, when the Wasatch Front and portions of Cache, Box Elder and Tooele counties were declared out of compliance with the pollution threshold set by the Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Air Act. 

Bird admits the plan does not mean the Wasatch Front won't suffer from inversions once 2019 rolls around, but he insists the air will be cleaner and public health will be protected.

"I feel good about it," he said. 

The division is accepting public comment on its plan through Oct. 30. It is hosting three informational open houses and meetings where it will accept comment from residents who want to attend the events in Utah, Salt Lake and Weber counties.

Those meetings are 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Weber-Morgan Health Department, 477 E. 23rd St., Ogden; 9 a.m. Wednesday at the Utah County Commission Chambers, 100 E. Center St., Provo; and 10 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 15, at the Utah Department of Environmental Quality's boardroom, 195 N. 1950 West. 

Comments may be emailed to mberger@utah.gov.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

October 3, 2013

Mason City Fire Department (OWBs)

Source: Globe Gazette, Mason City, IA

October 03, 2013 4:30 pm

 

At 3:20 p.m. Tuesday -- firefighters responded to a burning complaint in the 300 block of 19th Street Southeast; found resident using wood for a boiler to heat a pool in the back yard, no action taken.

At 10:31 a.m. Wednesday -- firefighters responded to a burning complaint in the 500 block of South Adams Avenue; found resident burning garbage, issued warning and gave resident a copy of the open burning regulations.

At 5:53 p.m. Wednesday -- firefighters responded to a burning complaint in the 400 block of 19th Street Southeast; found resident using outdoor wood burner, no action taken.

At 10:43 a.m. Thursday -- firefighters responded to downed power line in the 700 block of North Madison Avenue; Alliant Energy arrived on the scene before firefighters left.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

October 1, 2013

Physicians group targets fireplaces and fuel burning stoves

By Amy Joi O'Donoghue, Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 1 2013 4:20 p.m. MDT

 

SALT LAKE CITY — Just as smoking cigarettes in an enclosed public place is harmful and no longer legal, a group of physicians said burning wood or coal in a fireplace or stove is a practice that has come and should go — especially in regions where Utah struggles with air quality.

"It is long overdue that we consider putting wood smoke into the community airshed as inappropriate," said Dr. Brian Moench, president of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment.

The push comes just in time for the season when those cool fall nights make it tempting to light a fire in the fireplace to take off the chill — a move Moench said harms you and your neighbors.

"Wood smoke is an extremely toxic, public health hazard," he said, pointing to Environmental Protection Agency numbers that show lifetime exposure to wood smoke is 12 times greater than being exposed to the equivalent amount of secondhand smoke.

Moench is going to make the case against what he calls the "air pollution elephant in the room" Wednesday to the Utah Air Quality Board during its regular monthly meeting.

Advocates would like the board to endorse the pursuit of a law that would put a year-round ban on wood-burning and coal-burning home heating devices in Utah's "non-attainment" areas — Utah, Salt Lake, Davis and Weber counties, as well as portions of Tooele, Box Elder and Cache counties.

"The idea that we are going to declare a green, yellow or a red day and play around with some voluntary cooperation with the effort isn't working," Moench said. "We have to rethink this, and the science is pretty clear."

Research shows that heating a home from a wood stove puts out the pollution equivalent of heating 90,000 homes via natural gas furnaces, he said, adding that burning a wood stove for one hour is the same as driving as much as 1,150 miles.

Because of the toxicity of the smoke and its ability to permeate nearby homes, Moench said the practice of burning wood or coal in fireplaces or stoves should be snuffed out — just like the backyard incineration of trash and operating a vehicle with excessive emissions.

"Routine wood burning should not be allowed for exactly the same philosophical, aesthetic and public health reasons as the prohibition of cigarette smoking in public venues, backyard trash incineration and excessive vehicle emissions," he said. "The smoke from wood stoves, boilers and fireplaces creeps onto adjacent property and into nearby homes, affecting the quality of life and the health of neighbors."

In his presentation, Moench will reiterate the findings of a study done by Kerry Kelly from the University of Utah. A chemical engineering researcher who specializes in air pollution, Kelly is associate director of the university's Program for Air Quality, Health and Society.

She also happens to be vice chairwoman of the Utah Air Quality Board, but is careful to stress her research is intended as informational — not as a public policy statement.

"I think it is a useful thing for individuals to know when they make the choice to burn wood," Kelly said. "I am thrilled that people are interested in the research and that it may spark a discussion."

Kelly used data measured by three state Division of Air Quality monitoring stations in Davis, Salt Lake and Utah counties from 2007 to 2011. The Hawthorne station in Salt Lake City, for example, showed that, on average, wood smoke contributed to 38 percent of the PM2.5 problem during inversions.

"I was quite surprised that we saw so much of it," she said. "The main message that might be useful for people to hear is that it doesn't take too many people to burn wood to have a big effect."

The state operates a registry of people who have wood stoves or fire places as the only way to heat their homes, and they are exempt from state "no-burn" days. Both Kelly and Moench said there are groups exploring ways to make it economically feasible for that population to convert to electrical or natural gas heating systems.

As far as the rest of the population goes, Moench said the Wasatch Front's notoriously unhealthy inversion periods are a signal that the ambience of a wood-burning stove or fireplace is no longer a good enough reason to strike a match.

"What we are really trying to accomplish is to transform people's attitudes and get people thinking that this is inappropriate as secondhand smoke," he said.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

October 1, 2013

State seeks EPA control over outdoor wood-burning furnaces

By RICHIE DAVIS Recorder Staff

Published in print: Tuesday, October 1, 2013

 

The state Attorney General’s Office, attorneys general from six other states and six environmental organizations are pressuring the federal government to begin regulating outdoor wood-burning boilers and to toughen regulations on residential wood-burning devices. 

Attorney General Martha Coakley has joined with her counterparts from Connecticut, Vermont, New York, Rhode Island, Oregon and Maryland, along with the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency in Washington, in filing a notice of intent to sue the EPA for failing to review and revise its 25-year-old New Source Performance Standards under the Clean Air Act.

Although the filing calls for EPA to abide by its mandate to review its performance at least every eight years, the greatest concern is with outdoor wood boilers, which the EPA originally exempted from its standards. 

“We get calls from all of the Northern states from people who are suffering from wood smoke exposure in their homes,” said Nancy Alderman, president of Connecticut-based Environment and Human Health Inc., which also filed notice of intent, along with the Environmental Defense Fund, American Lung Association and Pennsylania-based Clean Air Council.

“And one of the really sad things about this whole issue is that windows and doors cannot keep out wood smoke if it’s close enough to you. What’s explosive, in my opinion, is that outdoor wood burning is growing (in popularity) with absolutely no regulations.”

In recent years some local towns have promulgated their own bylaws governing outdoor wood boilers that heat homes.

The attorneys’ general Aug. 1 letter cites a 2008 report that outdoor wood boilers can emit about 12 times more particulates than EPA-certified wood-burning stoves, 1,000 times as much as oil furnaces and 1,800 times as much as gas furnaces.

The current emission standards for residential wood-fired heaters have been in place since February 1988, the letter states, yet the EPA has not completed its required notice and rule-making proceedings to review those standards and make revisions in view of improved technologies that can reduce those emissions.

The EPA issued a statement this week saying that its draft revisions to the new standards for residential wood heaters are now undergoing interagency review.

“Over the past two years, EPA has conducted extensive outreach and has received important feedback that has helped inform the draft now under review,” the agency said. “Once interagency review is complete, EPA will issue a proposal, and the public will have the opportunity to review and provide comment before EPA takes final action.”

The agency added, “EPA plans to address outdoor wood-burning boilers in the upcoming proposal ... Outdoor wood boilers (also called hydronic heaters) are not currently regulated at the federal level; however, consumers can choose cleaner-burning models through EPA’s voluntary partnership program. Heaters currently qualified under this program are 90 percent cleaner than unqualified models.” (See website below.)

The attorneys general and nonprofit petitioners call for the federal agency to promptly propose and issue revised standards for residential wood heating devices and for inclusion of outdoor wood boilers as well as indoor wood boilers and hydronic heaters.

“Attempts to control or minimize the health and quality of life impacts from outdoor wood boiler emissions have resulted in a patchwork of enforcement and legislative efforts of various states and localities, with little success,” the letter says.

On the Web:

www.epa.gov/burnwise/ordinances.html

www.epa.gov/burnwise/owhhlist.html

Full Article: CLICK HERE

September 2013

September 29, 2013

City Watch: Ithaca takes aim at smoky outdoor wood boilers

By: David Hill

8:09 PM, Sep 29, 2013

 

A city working group on nuisance smoke is pursuing a ban on outdoor wood boilers, warning that the heat sources popular in rural areas could be a smoky disaster in a more urban setting. 

The Common Council City Administration Committee on Wednesday endorsed the group’s desire to draft language to the zoning law that would prohibit the stand-alone boilers.

The boilers typically consist of a firebox surrounded by a cold-water jacket that absorbs heat and pipes it into a house. Because of the cold-water jacket, the fire doesn’t get hot enough to burn cleanly, and the result is a lot of sooty smoke, explained Alderwoman Cynthia Brock, a member of the City Hall working group on nuisance smoke. 

While existing rules prohibit the boilers’ use within 100 feet of a property line, West Hill has lots large enough for them to be allowed, she added.

Committee members offered enthusiastic support. 

“Certainly in an urban environment I think they’re entirely inappropriate,” said Graham Kerslick, of the Fourth Ward.

Meanwhile, Brock said there are obstacles to the city navigating neighbors’ disputes over heating-season wood-smoke issues. Existing rules say wood stoves and fireplaces must be in working order and operated correctly so their smoke is not a nuisance, but the language is too fuzzy for clear application, while putting in place more specific rules may require difficult, costly enforcement, she said.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

September 27, 2013

Buckland mulls outdoor fire ordinance

By DIANE BRONCACCIO

Recorder Staff

Friday, September 27, 2013

 

BUCKLAND — When a neighbor plays music too loud at night and doesn’t lower the volume on request, you could call the police. But who do you call when a neighbor keeps a campfire going — even after being told the smoke is coming directly into your home? 

“Noise and odors are nuisance issues,” resident Janet Sinclair told her selectmen recently. “If someone’s stereo is too loud, you could call police. But smoke isn’t just a nuisance odor, there are health issues for some people. I’m one of those people. This is not a small thing.”

After distributing copies of state law regarding public health nuisances, outdoor wood burning devices and a Department of Environmental Protection statement on the health and environmental effects of air pollution, Sinclair asked who in town is responsible to enforce these statutes. 

Sinclair said a neighbor who routinely burns late-night wood campfires, about 20 feet from her property, has refused to put them out when asked to do so.

“Someone should be able to be in their house on a 90-degree night, and not have to smell burning smoke coming in,” said Sinclair.

Board of Health member Terry Estes said the board is currently reviewing a noncriminal disposition bylaw regarding open burning, which would enable the board to issue “tickets” to violators, but Estes said the health board would not be able to enforce it.

“The previous time we had a noncriminal disposition ordinance was something of a disaster — because I was the enforcement agent, and I ended up going to court all the time.”

That bylaw concerned a smoking ban on school property. Estes said he had to take time off work to be in court.

“We can’t go to the house at night and give someone a ticket,” he added. “If the police are on duty, they could go.”

Police Chief James Hicks said cooking fires are exempt from state rules against “open burning,” as it’s called in state law. He said if someone claims it is a cooking fire, the police have no clear recourse.

Hicks said open burning enforcement should be under the jurisdiction of the Fire Department, but Shelburne Falls Fire Chief Richard Bardwell said the two-town district isn’t currently set up to enforce what would be a Buckland town bylaw.

“I don’t have a review board set up to hear appeals,” he explained. “The fire district would have to have a noncriminal disposition bylaw for an appeal process.”

Sinclair asked why the Board of Health couldn’t simply write a letter, asking the residents who have camp fires to stop.

Estes said the board hasn’t received a formal complaint, citing specific names and an address, but could consider a letter after that has been done.

“I’m not speaking just for myself here,” said Sinclair. “There are others with the same complaint.”

“I have someone in my family who has asthma,” Selectman Robert Dean remarked, “and wood smoke is a big trigger.”

Besides town officials sending a letter to residents about open burning, selectmen said they could include information about open-burning regulations with the next set of town tax bills. Also, they may post the information on the town’s website.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

September 24, 2013

Get involved in air quality: State wants to hear from you about proposed regs for Fairbanks

Posted: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 11:30 pm

Source: Daily News Miner, author unknown 

 

News Miner opinion: The debate about how to improve the Fairbanks area’s poor air quality kicked off anew Friday with the state’s release of proposed rules that would govern local residents with the aim of bringing the area into compliance with federal standards by 2019.

Officials with the state Department of Environmental Conservation were in Fairbanks on Tuesday as part of their effort to educate local leaders and the public about what’s in store and how people can comment on the proposed regulations — and perhaps help revise them before they become final sometime next spring or summer. 

Why are we having these regulations? First off, the state is doing it because Fairbanks voters in 2012 approved a ballot measure prohibiting the Fairbanks North Star Borough from regulating air pollution from home heating devices, which are seen as the primary source of PM 2.5 air pollution, the fine particulate matter that is the cause of concern. And the state is doing it also because the federal Environmental Protection Agency says a portion of the borough, referred to as the non-attainment area, has consistently violated federal air quality standards. And the EPA can penalize not just Fairbanks but all of Alaska if Fairbanks doesn’t comply.

The regulations do a variety of things, among them these: 

• Gives the state options other than burn bans to deal with air quality episodes.

• Reinstates a November-March restriction on outdoor open burning in the non-attainment area. The borough had eliminated the restriction. 

• Sets lower particulate matter limits on new wood-fired heating devices and outdoor hydronic heaters sold or installed in the non-attainment area.

• Sets air pollution levels to trigger air quality alerts, air quality warnings or an air quality emergency episode. 

• Allows a local air quality control program to declare air quality episodes and advisories and to take immediate action, upon a written agreement with the state.

The DEC believes Fairbanks can come into compliance with federal regulations only through the full slate of regulations coupled with the borough’s wood stove change-out program and education about proper wood burning.

But the agency wants to hear from lots of residents, which is one reason it has allowed for a lengthy public comment period — comments can be filed online through Jan. 23. A comment form and information about the regulations can be found online at http://notice.alaska.gov and searching under the Department of Environmental Conservation. 

Also, the department will hold hearings in Fairbanks, Anchorage and Juneau on Jan. 21 and will hold four open houses from 5 -7 p.m. on the following dates in the Fairbanks and North Pole areas: Oct. 2 at Wedgewood Resort; Oct. 16 at North Pole Middle School; Nov. 20 at Watershed School; Jan. 8 at the Westmark Hotel.

The proposed regulations are out there. Now it’s up to you to learn about them and say what you think.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

September 24, 2013

Weisenberg family displaced by fire that stove may have started

September 24, 2013

By Frank Warner, Of The Morning Call

 

A family of six was displaced Monday afternoon by a western Lehigh County fire that severely damaged a two-story house after flames broke out near an outdoor wood-burning stove.

"It started outside the basement in the vicinity of a wood stove," Weisenberg Township fire Chief Scott Freeman said Tuesday. "It came through the dining room area to the master bedroom." 

The blaze was reported at 5:25 p.m. at the house in the 2300 block of Packhouse Road in the township, about three miles west of Fogelsville.

Only one person was home when the fire began, but no one was injured. Freeman said the fire spread fast. 

"We had a fire apparatus on the scene 6 minutes after the initial call, and fire already had taken hold," he said. "We had quite a bit of extension."

Fogelsville, Tri-Clover and New Tripoli firefighters aided the Weisenberg firefighters. Water tanker trucks were sent in from Schnecksville, Germansville and Topton. 

Eventually, the fire swept through the basement, badly damaged the first floor and left smoke and water damage to the rest of the house, Freeman said.

The American Red Cross of the Greater Lehigh Valley was asked to assist the displaced family, which includes four children from 6 months to 12 years old.

Weisenberg Fire Marshal Stacey Carl is investigating the cause of the fire. Freeman said she may have initial findings within a few days.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

September 19, 2013

New Hamilton hire promises rigorous code enforcement (OWBs discussed)

By MELODY ASPER For The Evening Sun

September 19, 2013

 

Hamilton officials have hired an inspection service firm to fill the position left vacant by the surprise resignation of the township's full-time code enforcement officer in August.

Board of supervisor Chairperson Stephanie Egger introduced Dale Gettel, of Commonwealth Code Inspection Service, at Monday night's township meeting. Former zoning and code enforcement officer Ronald Balutis resigned last month to take a position in another area,

Several residents at Monday's meeting questioned if Gettel would be "up to speed" to handle several highly contentious on-going zoning issues and legal battles within the township.

"We supported Ron (Balutis) and he supported us," said Ann Harmon of 700 Road. "Are we going to see our problems resurface now that he is gone?"

At the August meeting when Balutis's resignation was announced, Harmon and several other residents had lamented the loss of his seven-year dedication to the job.

Through the years, Balutis dealt with and solved many building code violations, including several incidents Gun Club Road.

Gettel assured the concerned residents that he will continue to move forward with all of the proceedings Balutis started.

"We understand what is going on but we don't want to jump in headfirst and cost the township a lot of money in legal fees," Gettel said. "It's going to be a long and arduous road but we will prevail."

Gettel is fully certified as a zoning and building code officer, and he will be working for

Hamilton about two full days each week, Egger said. Gettel will be at the township office for appointments with residents every Wednesday morning, but the township staff will be in contact with him every day, she said.

Commonwealth Code Inspection Services has a total of 140 employees, Gettel said. This gives the township the added benefit of always being able to contact someone in the case of problems, even if Gettel is out of the area, he said.

Gettel will be paid $40 per hour for his services, Egger said. If Gettel works two full eight-hour days each week for the township, over the course of one year that would work out to a pay of $33,280.

According to Hamilton's 2013 budget, Balutis was paid $58,344 per year. Balutis did not receive any medical or health benefits from the township.

Gettel will not receive any additional township benefits either, he said, and he will also be using his own cell phone and car.

It was early in 2006 when the newly hired Balutis discovered, due to residents' complaints, that many of the homes in the Pine Run development did not adhere to building-code standards and had never been inspected or issued occupancy permits.

It took several years to sort through all the issues involved, said township officials, but due to Balutis' determined persistence in making sure regulations and building codes were followed, the homes now all have approved occupancy permits.

Balutis was also instrumental in clearing the air in the area of Gun Club Road which was once known by the moniker "Smoky Hollow" because of two faulty outdoor wood-fired furnaces.

The outdoor furnaces owned by one resident were non-compliant with township regulations and were a thorn in the side of the community for years, with some residents claiming the smoke caused health problems such as asthma attacks.

In December 2012, due to the combined work of Balutis, other municipal officials, and the township solicitor, Adams County Judge John Kuhn issued an injunction permanently banning the Gun Club property owner, David Lease, from operating any outdoor furnace without township authorization.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

September 13, 2013

Outdoor wood burners spark new ordinance

By Goldie Currie - gcurrie@bcrnews.com

Created: Friday, September 13, 2013 6:43 p.m. CDT

 

MANLIUS – The Manlius Village Board was in the process this week of writing up an ordinance that will better regulate outdoor wood stove burners. 

A resident approached the board earlier this year with concerns about his neighbor’s homemade outdoor wood stove burner, which was apparently producing a large quantity of thick, blue smoke. The resident provided the board with literature explaining the dangers and health hazards of outdoor burners, and he explained how the smoke was blowing into his home and affecting his family’s health.

The board agreed the outdoor wood stove burner causing issues was a “disaster” and “hazard.”

Full Article: CLICK HERE 

 

September 12, 2013

Byesville bans outdoor furnaces

By: John Lowe The Daily Jeffersonian

Published: September 12, 2013 1:00PM

 

BYESVILLE -- Village officials adopted an ordinance Wednesday that prohibits the operation of outdoor wood- or coal-burning furnaces within the village limits. 

Council dispensed with three readings and adopted the ordinance on an emergency basis by unanimous vote

However, any such furnaces already installed are "grandfathered in," or, in other words, exempt from the ordinance. 

Building and Zoning Inspector Brad Dudley said the ordinance was a wise one because of the close proximity of residents to one another.

Such furnaces generally are not vented to a significant height and, therefore, the smoke from the furnaces sometimes lingers close to the ground, potentially afflicting citizens with respiratory problems.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

September 4, 2013

Wood burning furnaces fuel local disagreements -- feds to weigh in

September 04, 2013

By: Brooks Hays

 

Outdoor wood furnaces generate heat and smoke — and they also generate strong feelings.  Environmental and health advocates say wood-burning furnaces are a detriment to local air quality. Mounting complaints from these factions have inspired several states and localities to call on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take a closer look at the rules that govern residential wood-burning heaters or furnaces. But many residents feel ganged-up on, and the issue is beginning to boil over. 

Earlier this week, the attorney generals of Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, and Vermont, as well as the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency, sent a letter to the EPA complaining that the agency’s outdated wood furnace regulations were slowing their efforts to ensure cleaner air and improved health.

The heaters in question are not traditional wood stoves, which are usually indoors and act as space heaters, but wood furnaces, usually built outdoors and used to heat hot water or air as part of a central heating system. They are typically the size of a small shed or large doghouse and burn small sticks or wood pellets.

The states' letter to the EPA complains that these heaters have been linked to increased rates of asthma issues, and asserts that the furnaces can damage the coronary and pulmonary systems, and even cause cancer. Wood smoke, researchers say, is alarmingly similar to cigarette smoke, containing significant amounts of harmful pollutants and toxic chemicals. 

Previous localized efforts, in places like New York State, to curb wood furnace pollution have seen strong community pushback. Critics say complaints about wood burning furnaces are overstated and that new regulations would be too expensive. Rules proposed by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in 2010 moved Harry Whitehead, a local wood furnace owner, to wonder, in the Olean Times Herald: “If a few complaints are the basis for an overreaching set of regulations, then how many complaints does it take to get rid of the DEC?”

Proponents of stronger regulations say they’re not trying to get rid of wood-burning furnaces, just improve their performance.  In Europe, some experts say, more stringent standards have not made wood furnaces more expensive or less popular, but have in fact improved their efficiency, with modern stoves able to produce more heat while burning less fuel. But U.S. manufacturers warn against direct comparisons between U.S. and European testing of outdoor wood furnaces. 

Earlier this year, as GIMBY’s News Focus reported, the EPA strengthened soot standards. But air quality standards are measured as county averages, and aren’t necessarily designed to combat localized problems. States like Connecticut, New York, Oregon, and others want regulations that set specific performance standards for wood furnaces. The attorneys general of the complaining states are threatening to sue the EPA if efforts to update the wood furnace rules aren’t expedited. The American Lung Association, Clean Air Council, Environmental Defense Fund and Environmental and Human Health Inc. have also all announced their intent to sue if changes aren’t made.

The EPA released a statement promising new rules will be proposed soon. "Over the past two years, EPA has conducted extensive outreach and has received important feedback that has helped inform the draft now under review," the statement said. "Once interagency review is complete, EPA will issue a proposal, and the public will have the opportunity to review and provide comment before EPA takes final action."

Until a formal regulation is proposed, there is no way for citizens or organizations to leave comments.  But a draft of the rules currently under review is available here, and you can get some sense of how EPA has approached this issue in the past by clicking here.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

September 3, 2013

Outdoor furnace ordinance up for final reading at council meeting

Final reading of an ordinance that would add regulation of outdoor wood-burning furnaces to the city code is on the agenda for tonight’s Rolla City Council meeting.

By R.D. Hohenfeldt Posted Sep. 3, 2013 @ 6:13 pm

 

Final reading of an ordinance that would add regulation of outdoor wood-burning furnaces to the city code is on the agenda for tonight’s Rolla City Council meeting.

“The ordinance offered for a final reading this evening would be considered a minimal approach to regulating outdoor furnaces,” Community Development Director John Petersen wrote in his agenda commentary. 

 Petersen said it is “minimal” because, for instance:

    • It lacks a sunset provision for legal, non-conforming furnaces.

    • There’s no limit on the months of operation.

    • Lacking is a definition of “nuisance” as that word relates to outdoor furnaces.

    • There are no specific enforcement procedures.

 

 “A draft maximum approach has been included to help gain perspective for this draft ordinance,” Petersen said.

 What the minimal draft ordinance will do is force new outdoor furnaces to be located no less than 300 feet from any structure designed for human occupancy.

 “This proposed standard all but assures that outdoor wood-burning furnaces may only be used on large parcels, which should reduce potential impact,” Petersen wrote. “Additional installation rules would regulate chimney height and provide other clearance limits.”

 The ordinance is the result of a complaint from Ken and Margaret Hawley about a neighbor’s furnace, which they say fills their house with smoke. They originally asked the council to ban outdoor wood-burning furnaces.

Neighbor Jeff Dvorak told the council last month that he has raised the level of the smoke stack on his furnace and is prepared to raise it further to satisfy the Hawleys. 

Full Article: CLICK HERE

September 3, 2013 (audio)

Conn., NY Among States Threatening Lawsuit Against EPA

Environmentalists Say Wood Furnaces Produce Toxic Smoke

September 3, 2013 3:29 PM

Source: CBS New York

 

HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork) – The state of Connecticut has joined in on a possible lawsuit calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to tighten its regulations for outdoor wood-burning furnaces.

As WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau reported, more and more people are using outdoor wood furnaces to heat their homes because of the rising price of oil. 

But environmentalists warn that while the fuel might be cheaper, the toxins from the smoke are dangerous.

Nancy Alderman, head of the New Haven-based advocacy group Environment and Human Health, said the smoke is denser and doesn’t rise to dissipate. 

“So no matter how high you put the stack, the smoke will still fall toward the ground and it will still hang in a plume,” Alderman told Schneidau.

She said the smoke is as toxic as cigarette smoke. 

Alderman said these outdoor wood furnaces are also proving to be toxic to neighbors looking to sell their homes.

“If you live in a home near an outdoor wood furnace, you probably cannot sell that home. People do not want to buy a house encased in smoke,” Alderman said. 

The letter of intent to sue the EPA signed by the attorneys general of Connecticut, New York and five other states seeks to force the federal agency to tighten regulations governing the outdoor wood furnaces.

The push for standardized laws would not impact the use of wood stoves.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

September 2, 2013

Connecticut attorney general joins request for new EPA rules on wood-burning heaters

By Phyllis Swebilius, New Haven Register 

Posted: 09/02/13, 11:27 PM EDT

 

Hartford- Connecticut’s attorney general, and seven others, have put the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on notice they want standardized laws governing residential wood-burning heaters.

Wood smoke contains pollutants that harm the coronary and pulmonary systems and can cause cancer, the eight said in a letter to the EPA. 

The boilers have been linked to increased incidence of asthma and other respiratory problems, “especially in young children,” the letter says.

“They are wood stoves that use forced air or hot water for central heating, whereas a wood stove is used for space heating,” said Jeff Hallowell, an owner of ClearStak LLC, an environmental engineering company in Woodstock. 

The letter of intent to sue EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy was signed by state Attorney General George Jepsen and the AGs of New York, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.

It cites the “patchwork” of regulations in individual states and seeks federal standards to “provide certainty” for manufacturers and buyers. 

The eight are acting because of “outdated” standards on the heaters, which they say are “a major source of air pollution in many communities.”

Pollution is caused by poor design, inefficient burning of the wood and smoldering of the flame, it said. 

One state dealer, John Shamansky of Connecticut Outdoor Wood Furnaces in Woodbury, said rules are needed.

“We want regulations. We as an industry want regulations,” Shamansky said. 

Jepsen, in a prepared statement Friday, said EPA has been working on standards for some time, but the eight “were concerned that the efforts may have stalled.”

Jepsen said the effort was led by New York state. 

The EPA should move to “require appropriate limits.”

“Controls on new outdoor wood boilers are important for protecting public health,” Jepsen said. 

Since 1988, use of residential wood heaters and boilers has grown; boilers are not covered by EPA regulations, the letter says.

Boilers burn stick wood or pellets. They can look smaller than a tool shed, but bigger than a dog house, depending on how much heat they generate. 

“This lawsuit applies to anything that generates anything less than 350,000 Btu per hour, which would be a lot for a house,” Hallowell said.

Connecticut has no emissions standards for the boilers, and it is the only New England state that allows older units to be sold, Hallowell said. 

“My frustration is that they’ve been trying to pass it in the state, but they’ve been unable to,” Hallowell said.

“I have two children with asthma and there is technology that exists to reduce emissions and improve efficiency and Connecticut just hasn’t adopted it,” he said. 

New standards won’t affect older burners, said Nancy Alderman, president of Environment and Human Health Inc. in North Haven.

“The shortcoming is, even if EPA gives us new air standards, and let’s say they’re good, all the old units will be grandfathered in,” Alderman said.

“That’s the bad news, and it is very bad news,” Alderman said.

Hallowell agreed. “I don’t want the old ones grandfathered in,” he said.

“Pollution is bad and everyone wants to reduce pollution and just like in a car, the newer ones use less fuel and therefore generate fewer emissions,” Hallowell said.

Alderman has been working on the issue five years.

“Wood smoke has the same components as cigarette smoke,” Alderman said.

The public understands the dangers of tobacco, but not wood smoke, Alderman said.

“We were all raised thinking it was a way to join together around a campfire or a fireplace,” she said.

In Connecticut, a 200-foot setback is required, so the pollution is not an issue in the major cities.

EHHI has a map showing 940 complaints in 2012, most in the northern part of the state. Seventeen municipalities have banned outdoor furnaces, including Cheshire, Haddam, Hamden, North Haven and Woodbridge.

“I’m very proud of the state of Connecticut and I’m very proud of our attorney general for taking the initiative to try to protect Connecticut citizens from wood smoke exposures,” Alderman said.

Call Phyllis Swebilius at 203-789-5681.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

September 2, 2013

State takes on wood furnaces

Robert Miller

Updated 11:22 pm, Monday, September 2, 2013

 

For years, the advocacy group Environment and Human Health Inc. has led the battle against outdoor wood furnaces, claiming their smoke is bad to breathe.

Now it has an ally -- Attorney General George Jepsen. 

The Attorney General's Office has joined with five other states -- Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon and Vermont -- and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency in Washington to push the federal Environmental Protection Agency to write new regulations governing these furnaces.

"I'm very pleased," said Nancy Alderman, president of Environment and Human Health Inc., a nonprofit organization of nine physicians and public health professionals dedicated to protecting human health from environmental harm. 

The letter to the EPA states Connecticut's "intent to sue" the EPA over the issue. But Susan Kinsman, spokeswoman for Jepsen, said the effort is aimed not at suing the EPA, but to get it to update its 25-year-old regulations governing these furnaces.

"This is a multistate effort, led by New York," Jepsen said in a news statement Friday. "EPA has been working on standards for some time, and we were concerned that the efforts may have stalled. Controls on new, outdoor wood boilers are important for protecting public health, and EPA should move as quickly as possible to require appropriate limits." 

The EPA said in its own news release that it will study the states' request.

It said the federal agency is formulating new standards for such furnaces, and that these regulations are under interagency review.

"Over the past two years, EPA has conducted extensive outreach and has received important feedback that has helped inform the draft now under review," the statement said. "Once interagency review is complete, EPA will issue a proposal, and the public will have the opportunity to review and provide comment before EPA takes final action." 

Alderman said this review is long overdue.

"Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA is supposed to review its regulations every eight years," Alderman said. "This hasn't been done in 25 years." 

In that time, outdoor wood furnaces have gained in popularity.

As they become more numerous, so have the complaints. 

Outdoor wood furnaces use wood to heat a boiler, with the hot water piped into a house to heat it. These furnaces burn the wood slowly, and the particulate matter in the smoke is heavy.

As a result, the wood from these furnaces, instead of going up, hangs low to the ground, spreads out and is an irritant to human lungs. These stoves produce far more of this heavy particulate matter than wood stoves, oil furnaces and gas furnaces. 

The letter from the Attorneys General of the seven states points out that over the past 25 years, technology has been greatly improved and it can reduce emissions from these stoves.

In Europe, the attorneys general's letter states, stricter standards have made these furnaces far more efficient and cleaner. Sales, rather than dropping off, have grown, the letter states. 

Alderman said that 17 towns in Connecticut -- including Ridgefield and New Fairfield -- have banned the use of these stoves.

But at the General Assembly, she said, stricter regulations get stymied year after year by agricultural interests. 

"The state Department of Agriculture believes people should burn wood 24/7," she said.

Alderman said even new EPA regulations won't force homeowners with old, dirty wood furnaces to get new ones, so Environment and Human Health will continue its campaign against them. 

"It's important to continue at the town level," she said.

bmiller@newstimes.com; 203-731-3345

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

August 2013

August 30, 2013

Vt. might sue EPA over wood boilers

Updated: Aug 30, 2013 9:06 PM CST

By WCAX News

 

BURLINGTON, Vt. -

Vermont is joining six other states in a plan to sue the Environmental Protection Agency. 

Vermont's Attorney General says the EPA has failed to review and revise performance standards for residential wood heaters under the Clean Air Act. The states say the EPA's 25-year-old standards are outdated and do not cover outdoor wood boilers, which they say are major air polluters.

They're giving the EPA 60 days to address the issue before they sue.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

August 29, 2013

Burning questions on boilers

State orders couple to remove heat system

Posted: Thursday, August 29, 2013 12:00 pm

By Lisa McCormack

 

Dairy farmer Dennis Morin is proud of his old-fashioned Yankee ingenuity. 

After he and his wife Anita paid $12,000 for oil to heat their home and barn on Stancliff Road in Morristown during the winter of 2008-09, he began looking for a less expensive alternative. 

He found a solution that spring when he spotted an outdoor wood-fired boiler on the side of the road. It was for sale for $4,000.

Built in 1997, the boiler was large enough to heat the Morins’ barn and provide heat and hot water for their one-story home. 

Morin purchased it and installed it in a shed next to his barn. It paid for itself in heating-fuel savings that first winter, he said.

He fed it logs he got for free from a neighbor. 

The Morins use the boiler year-round to provide hot water for their home and to heat sterilization equipment in their milking parlor to the required temperature.

But a law aimed at reducing air pollution has left the couple wondering how much longer they’ll be able to afford to heat their home and barn. 

In October 2010, the Morins received a letter from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, Air Pollution Control Division. A neighbor had complained about the smoke generated by the wood-fired boiler.

Soon, an investigator arrived at their house to inspect it. 

The state told the Morins they would have to increase the height of the boiler’s smokestack so that it would comply with state environmental regulations. They were also given the option of replacing the boiler with a more efficient state-approved model, or another type of heating system.

The Morins called for an estimate to determine how much it would cost to bring the smokestack into compliance. 

“It was over $500 and we just didn’t have the money,” Anita Morin said.

Later, the Morins learned they’d have to get rid of the boiler altogether to comply with VSA 10-584, a state environmental law passed in 2009. It requires that inefficient outdoor wood-fired boilers be replaced with models certified under current air pollution control regulations. 

Specifically, the law required that uncertified outdoor wood-burning boilers located within 200 feet of a residence, school or healthcare facility not served by the boiler be removed and destroyed by Dec. 31, 2012.

The law also requires that uncertified outdoor wood-fired boilers that have resulted in valid complaints regarding emissions be removed and destroyed. The Morins’ boiler is not within 200 feet of another residence, school or healthcare facility, but it has generated valid complaints. 

An official from the Air Pollution Control Division encouraged the Morins to apply for financial assistance through a program that could provide up to $6,000 toward the cost of replacing the boiler. They were told that if they failed to replace it, they would be subject to a fine.

Nearly nine months after the Dec. 31 deadline, the Morins and the state are at an impasse. 

The couple says they can’t afford the $13,000 cost of a new state-approved heating system, even if they were to receive financial assistance. Nor can they afford to pay the fine, which is currently assessed at $9,000, based on a number of factors including their knowledge of state regulations, the length of time the violation has continued, and the impact on public health.

“I couldn’t come up with 9 cents,” Dennis Morin said. 

He’s not sure what will happen next. He worries the fine will continue to grow, or that the state might attempt to remove the boiler.

The state does not seem to have a clear answer, either. “At this point there’s no resolution,” said John Zaikowski, an environmental enforcement attorney for the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation. 

Zaikowski said he could not comment further on the case because it’s active.

Environmental impact

Smoke emitted from traditional outdoor wood-fired boilers has been linked with severe localized pollution and adverse health effects such as asthma. New certified boilers sold in Vermont today emit 70 to 90 percent less pollution. 

Newer certified boilers are also much more energy efficient.

The state has identified about 100 outdoor wood-fired boilers that are potentially subject to the removal mandate, according to John Wakefield, compliance officer for the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation Air Quality and Climate Division. 

But there are likely many others the state has not identified. Providing an accurate estimate of the total number of noncompliant boilers still in use is difficult, despite a law that, since 1997, has required dealers of outdoor wood-burning boilers to send a written notice to the state with each sale, Wakefield said.

“Additionally, many Vermonters construct homemade outdoor wood-burning boilers on their own,” Wakefield said. “Without complaints associated with homemade boilers, which are often the least efficient and cause the greatest nuisance, the number is difficult to quantify.” 

It’s also uncertain just how environmentally harmful the Morins’ boiler is. The state has not tested the boiler to determine the level of smoke particles released into the atmosphere. Such testing generally isn’t done because it’s expensive and difficult, according to Zaikowski.

Change-out program 

The Air Quality and Climate Division started the Outdoor Wood Boiler Change-out Program in January 2011. The voluntary program provides financial incentives to encourage the replacement of old boilers with cleaner, more efficient heating units.

Vermonters can apply to receive up to $6,000 to replace an old boiler. 

Money for the program comes from federal funding and is distributed by the state.

To date, the program has received more than 90 applications for vouchers resulting in more than 60 change-outs, Wakefield said. 

“Not only do the new outdoor wood-fired boilers improve air quality, they also save owners money because they burn much less wood to achieve the same heating capacity,” Wakefield said.

But the new systems are not always cheaper to run, according to another Morristown couple. 

Lois Atwood and David Speer used the $6,000 they received from the program to replace a homemade wood-fired boiler that had generated complaints from a neighbor. They spent an additional $3,000 of their own money to install a new wood-pellet heating system purchased from a state-certified dealer.

The new system, which provides heat and hot water for their home and outbuildings, is much more expensive to run, according to Atwood. They spend about $700 each month for wood pellets; they were able to feed the old system with wood they got for free. 

Replacing the boiler isn’t an option for the Morins because of their financial situation, they said.

Even if they were able to come up with the difference between the cost of the new boiler and the $6,000 voucher, they’re not sure they could afford the heating fuel it would require. 

Dennis Morin is frustrated with the ban on older model boilers. He believes it discourages the thrift and ingenuity that have long characterized Vermont farmers.

He and his wife have never received state assistance of any kind, and he’d be hesitant to apply for the change-out voucher even if he could afford to pay the difference, he said. 

“I’ve never taken a handout from anyone,” Morin said. “Vermont’s not a green state no more; it’s a welfare state.”

What the state will do next is unclear. 

“In any enforcement case, the agency has the option of filing an action in environmental court,” Zaikowski said. “In the end, they have to comply with the law just like everyone else.”

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

August 28, 2013

Stove change-out program falls short of goals

Posted: August 28, 2013 - 12:02am

Posted: Associated Press


FAIRBANKS — Enhanced incentives to get rid of polluting outdoor wood boilers and dirty wood stoves in the smokiest parts of the Fairbanks North Star Borough are getting mixed results. 

The Fairbanks area perennially fails to meet federal standards for particulate during winter months as residents burn wood to save money. An enhanced exchange program offered extra financial incentives for homeowners to replace outdoor hydronic wood boilers and wood stoves in areas of the most particulate, which can cause an irregular heartbeat or heart attack.

The application period ends this week. Air quality project supervisor Todd Thompson told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner that the number of replaced wood stoves is short of its initial goals. Fewer than half of the wood-burners near Dale Road used the program. 

“It didn’t go as well as we were thinking,” Thompson said. “It’s hard to say exactly how many stoves are in that area, but there’s 100 or more and we were hoping to get a majority of them, but we ended up capturing close to 15.”

Swapping out wood boilers went better, Thompson said. 

“It went well out in North Pole for boilers,” he said. “We were hoping to get about 20 out of 30 in that area, and we got approximately eight or nine, which is really good for a voluntary program.”

Owners of some outdoor hydronic heaters were eligible for up to $10,000 to replace the unit. Owners of dirty wood stoves could receive up to $3,500 and another $1,000 if they chose to burn pellet fuels. 

The entire borough remains eligible for the regular wood stove change-out program.

“The regular program is still in place,” he said. “We do have funding. It’s limited, but there are a lot of people coming in and applying on a daily basis. Our office is definitely busy with applications.”

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

August 26, 2013

Limited success for Fairbanks borough's wood stove plan

Posted: Monday, August 26, 2013 9:11 pm

Matt Buxton/mbuxton@newsminer.com

 

FAIRBANKS—The application period for the borough’s voluntary enhanced wood stove exchange program is scheduled to end this week, and the program’s results are mixed. 

The enhanced program offered extra financial incentives for homeowners to replace outdoor hydronic wood boilers and wood stoves in areas of the borough plagued by some of the worst wintertime air pollution.

The enhanced program is a beefed up version of the borough’s existing wood stove exchange program, with bigger incentives targeted at replacing outdoor hydronic heaters in North Pole and the city of Fairbanks and wood stoves in the Dale Road area. 

However, as the program comes to an end, the number of replaced wood stoves is coming up short of its initial goals, said Todd Thompson, the borough’s air quality project supervisor.

Of an estimated 100 dirty wood stoves in the Dale Road area, the enhanced program only got 15 devices swapped out, Thompson said. 

“It didn’t go as well as we were thinking,” he said. “It’s hard to say exactly how many stoves are in that area, but there’s 100 or more and we were hoping to get a majority of them, but we ended up capturing close to 15.”

The enhanced program’s target for hydronic wood boilers went better, Thompson said. The borough replaced 10 of the estimated 30 hydronic heaters in North Pole, with five more in the Dale Road area and city of Fairbanks. 

“It went well out in North Pole for boilers,” he said. “We were hoping to get about 20 out of 30 in that area and we got approximately eight or nine, which is really good for a voluntary program.”

Under the enhanced program, owners of some outdoor hydronic heaters were eligible for as much as $10,000 each to replace the unit with a cleaner-burning device. Owners of dirty wood stoves could get as much as $3,500. Those who switched to pellet fuels could receive an additional $1,000. 

Thompson said outreach consisted of a letter and at least two door hanger fliers delivered to each eligible residence.

Homeowners can still apply, said Thompson. Even though the change-out can take longer than a week, as long as they submit their paperwork by Friday, they can qualify for the program. 

Thompson said the whole borough is still eligible for the regular wood stove change-out program and that it’s busy with applications.

“The regular program is still in place,” he said. “We do have funding, it’s limited, but there are a lot of people coming in and applying on a daily basis. Our office is definitely busy with applications.”

Contact staff writer Matt Buxton at 459-7544 and follow him on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

August 10, 2013

County offers money for wood-fired stoves

August 10, 2013 12:09 am

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

 

In an effort to reduce smoke and fine particulate air pollution, the Allegheny County Health Department is offering monetary incentives to get county residents to dispose of woodstoves and outdoor wood-fired boilers made before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency set emission standards for the equipment.

The department is offering $500 for non-Phase II outdoor wood-fired boilers and a $200 gift card for uncertified woodstoves. The "bounties" will be given for up to five boilers and 200 woodstoves. The cards are for Home Depot, Lowes, Kmart, Dick's Sporting Goods, GetGo and Giant Eagle.

To register for the program or for more information, call 412-578-8106 or visit www.achd.net/air/bounty/. Signups are accepted until Aug. 31. The equipment must be turned in at a collection event to be held Sept. 7 at the skating rink parking lot on Corrigan Drive in South Park. Unregistered items will not be accepted.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

August 9, 2013

Bounty Program for Old Woodstoves, Outdoor Wood-Fired Boilers

County Health Dept. Initiative Aims to Reduce Wood-Burning Emissions 

PITTSBURGH – The Allegheny County Health Department is offering a “bounty” program for County residents to dispose of woodstoves and outdoor wood-fired boilers manufactured before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency set emission standards for the equipment.

The bounty program was set up to help reduce the smoke and fine particulate pollution that come from such old equipment and in response to an increase in citizen complaints about wood-burning emissions.

The Health Department is offering a $500 cash incentive for non-Phase II outdoor wood-fired boilers and a $200 gift card for uncertified woodstoves.  Bounties will be offered for up to 5 outdoor wood-fired boilers and 200 woodstoves. The gift cards are for Home Depot, Lowes, Kmart, Dick’s Sporting Goods, GetGo and Giant Eagle.

The program is for Allegheny County residents, and participants must register in advance.  To register for or for more information about the program, please call 412-578-8106 or visit www.achd.net/air/bounty/. Registrations will be accepted until August 31, 2013. 

The woodstoves and boilers must be turned in at a collection event to be held on Saturday, September 7, at the skating rink parking lot on Corrigan Drive in South Park.  No stoves or boilers will be accepted the day of the event from anyone who has not registered in advance.

Stoves and boilers will be processed by Tube City IMS at its Recycling Center in West Mifflin.

The bounty program is supported by a $75,000 grant from the Allegheny County Clean Air Fund.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

August 9, 2013

Allegheny County offers 'bounty' for woodstoves, boilers

By David Conti 

Published: Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013, 1:06 p.m.

 

That old woodstove might have new value beyond its rustic ambience.

The Allegheny County Health Department on Thursday said it would pay a “bounty” of several hundred dollars each to people who turn in older woodstoves and outdoor wood-fired boilers that don't meet newer rules for air emissions.

The pilot program comes two months after rules in a county ordinance took effect, cracking down on the wood-fired boilers. The rules are stricter than a state law that took effect in 2010.

“A third of the citizen complaints we get are related to wood smoke,” said Alaina Conner, pollution prevention and outreach coordinator in the county's air quality program.

Officials don't know how many boilers or woodstoves that don't meet Environmental Protection Agency standards remain in use in the county. But they know the danger.

A Pittsburgh Regional Environmental Threat Analysis report from the University of Pittsburgh found 20 percent of fine particulate pollution in the county — the kind that gets deep in the lungs — comes from residential fuel, mostly wood.

Those fine particulates cause health problems and keep the county from meeting federal air quality guidelines.

The older stoves and furnaces emit more of them and can choke neighbors.

“It can be especially impactful if someone living in your community has one,” said Jamin Bogi, policy and outreach coordinator at the Group Against Smog and Pollution, which pushed for the stricter county rules.

State law forbids the sale or installation of boilers that don't meet what the EPA calls Phase II standards. They have taller stacks to carry smoke away from neighbors, and they burn more efficiently.

The county on June 8 added to the height requirement, requiring the stacks to reach 2 feet above the top of any home within 150 feet. It requires that retailers report sales of the units to the county, and prohibits their use on air quality action days.

“That will exclude those things from coming in to properties and save us from some future problems,” Bogi said.

EPA rules passed in 1988 reduced pollution from woodstoves by cutting the amount of smoke they can emit from 15 to 30 grams of smoke per hour in old models to 2 to 7 grams of smoke, Conner said.

 

“The uncertified stoves won't have a tag on the back,” she said.

The county will give as many as 200 county residents gift cards worth $200 each for the older stoves. Recipients can choose from gift cards for Home Depot, Lowe's, Kmart, Dick's Sporting Goods, GetGo or Giant Eagle. 

Five people who turn in non-Phase II wood boilers can each get $500 cash. New boilers sell online for $5,000 to $10,000.

The money will come from the county Clean Air Fund, which collects money from air permits and fines.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

 

July 2013

July 27, 2013

Settlement reached in Fairbanks boiler dispute

Saturday July 27, 2013, 5:47 PM

Associated Press, Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner

 

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — The smoke has cleared in a court battle over two wood boilers across the street from a Fairbanks elementary school.

Andrew and Gloria Straughn have agreed to a settlement with the state in which they will pay a $12,000 penalty and replace the wood boilers with oil-fired boilers, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported Saturday.

The state Department of Conservation filed the civil suit in January after the pair declined to shut down or remove the boilers that drew smoke complaints from Woodriver Elementary School.

The Fairbanks North Star Borough School District installed new ventilation equipment in the school in 2011, attempting to improve air quality.

District spokesman Bill Bailey said the district's focus was not on the outside air, which they had no control over, but on the air inside the school itself.

"We always did what we could to remedy the inside air," Bailey said. "I would say the district exhausted all available options to make sure there was healthy air indoors."

According to court records, the Straughs own two rental properties a block apart and installed outdoor wood boilers as a heating source for both of them in 2008.

In its January court filing, the state said the boilers had drawn 186 complaints from almost 50 people.

"Several people who have been exposed to emissions from the defendants' two OWB's, including neighbors as well as staff and students at the Woodriver School, have begun to experience respiratory problems and asthma," the lawsuit stated.

A Superior Court judge issued a preliminary injunction in February that barred the Straughns from operating the wood boilers during the court case.

The state initially sought at least $20,000 from the Straughns but their attorney said his clients were incapable of paying such an amount.

The American Lung Association's most recent annual report said Alaska's second-largest city ranks as the No. 9 most polluted city in the nation for short-term particle pollution and No. 14 worst for year-round particle pollution. In summer, the culprit is wildfire. In winter, it's pollution from wood-fired home heating units.

The boiler replacement will be eligible for a $10,000 reimbursement from the Fairbanks North Star Borough through its exchange program, a borough representative said.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

July 22, 2013

Wood smoke dangers are largely ignored

Publication: The Day

Published 07/22/2013 12:00 AM

 

Wood smoke has become our new "second hand smoke." Wood smoke has many of the same components as cigarette smoke, yet is largely unregulated. 

It took years to understand the dangers of cigarette smoke, longer to understand the dangers of "second hand" cigarette smoke. It is now taking all too long to understand and regulate the dangers of wood smoke.

In summer months people burn open fire pits, chimineas and other wood burning equipment - many of which cause neighbors to breathe in wood smoke. Some affected call Environment and Human Health, Inc. looking for ways to stop the wood smoke from coming into their homes and asking why town, state and federal agencies do not protect them. 

The situation explodes in the colder months when outdoor wood furnaces pollute the air, with government agencies unwilling to remediate this problem. An outdoor wood furnace bill died once again in the state legislature this year and other states that are badly affected by wood smoke are not doing much better.

Wood smoke is dangerous when breathed in on a continual basis, just as cigarette smoke is. It is taking all too long for states, towns and health departments to deal with this serious health issue.

Nancy Alderman

President Environment and Human Health Inc. North Haven

Full Article: CLICK HERE

June 2013

June 25, 2013

Couple describes life next to an outdoor furnace

By R.D. Hohenfeldt Posted Jun. 25, 2013 @ 9:30 am

 

A neighbor’s outdoor boiler that is fueled by burning wood and possibly other materials has disrupted the lives of a Rolla couple for several months to such an extent that Ken and Margaret Hawley last week asked the Rolla City Council to ban the use of the heating equipment.

 Speaking to the council during the public comment period at the end of the council meeting, Margaret Hawley presented the council with a detailed log of smoke incidents, dating back to Oct. 13, 2012, that they have experienced at their home, 1190 S. Rolla St. The log notes the date, time, outside temperature and describes the specific problem.

She also presented letters that had been sent to their neighbors, identified only as Jeff and Michele.

In addition, she presented to the council two other documents, a four-page outdoor wood boiler fact sheet and a three-page guide for health professionals on the public health hazards that arrive from the excessive smoke generated by the outdoor wood boilers.

Kenneth Hawley told the council that manufacturers of outdoor wood-burning furnaces or boilers recommend they be installed 300-500 feet away from other buildings. Moreover, because of land elevation, the smoke stack “is lower than our windows,” Hawley said.

 “It is a public health nuisance for us,” he said.

The nuisance incidents are documented in the letters and log presented to the council.

Those letters, and the Hawleys’ public statements, indicate that the problem started long before Oct. 13, 2012, the first date on the log. Margaret Hawley told the council that the noxious smoke began in October 2011. 

“At least half the days of the year, we are breathing smoke,” she said. In addition to using the outdoor wood-burning boiler for heating in the winter, the neighbors also apparently use it to heat water for other uses.

 The smoke penetrates the walls even when the windows are closed, she said, and it is affecting the Hawleys’ health. 

 She said the boiler is about 200 feet from their home, far less than specified by manufacturers of such equipment.

One of the letters she presented to the council was dated June 12, 2012. It states: “There is a noxious smoke from the incineration of toxic and other substances which seems to originate from south of us, perhaps your furnace from our observations. The smells have ranged from creosote and petroleum products to paper and trans, and arrive at various hours of day and night and all seasons of the year.” 

In that letter to Jeff, the Hawleys state that they overlooked the situation for many months, thinking it would be temporary.

“But, we are beginning to realize it is continuing indefinitely, so we pressed to make our need known,” they wrote. “We have confidence from our knowing your kind and helpful neighborliness during our approximate 3 years as neighbors, that you will take this matter to heart and recognize that we also desire to be responsive to any need you may have of us as well.” 

The Hawleys followed up on May 26, 2013, with a letter and the log. They noted that in a conversation with Jeff, he had indicated that he didn’t think the noxious smoke came from his boiler.

 “So on June 21, we surveyed neighbors, seeking the source,” the Hawleys wrote. “June 27 there was a particularly grievous episode as we had drifted off to sleep on a warm summer night and were jolted awake by a noxious smoke filling our lungs and bedroom. We could see dark smoke rising at back of your home, so slipped on robes and knocked at your door at 10:30 p.m.” 

The Hawleys describe a half-hour discussion and tour of the outdoor wood furnace and explanation of its operation, given by Jeff.

 The letter notes that Jeff ceased use of the equipment from about July 1 until about Oct. 1, 2012, “which allowed us the ordinary comfort of fresh air inside and outside of our home. Thank you!” 

The use of the boiler resumed in October, and that’s when the Hawleys began keeping the detailed log, which they sent to Jeff and also submitted to the council.

 The May letter describes steps the Hawleys have taken to minimize the infiltration of the smoke into their home and makes suggestions for the owner of the outdoor burner, such as adding a scrubber or at least a taller smoke stack. 

 The neighbors have not taken any steps to solve the problem, the Hawleys said, so they appealed to the council to take action.

 No current provisions in the city code address the use of outdoor wood-burning boilers, which are growing in number and use.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

June 12, 2013 (opinion)

State vulnerable to outdoor wood heaters

Published 4:09 pm Wednesday, June 12, 2013


The state of Connecticut has once again failed to pass a bill that would regulate outdoor wood boilers (OWFs) in a way that would protect the public's health. At present, there are many individuals and families being made sick by their neighbor's wood smoke coming into their homes 24/7, and they have no one to help them. 

Both the state Department of Agriculture and the Connecticut Farm Bureau are determined that no additional regulations that would protect the public from OWFs be promulgated in Connecticut, and that leaves most towns and people extremely vulnerable to breathing wood smoke.

The longer towns wait to ban outdoor wood furnaces the more vulnerable towns and people become, because more people buy them and then they have more constituents and they become harder and harder to ban. 

People need to be aware -- if their town has not banned OWFs they are vulnerable. The wood smoke from an OWF travels for half a mile and there is no way to keep that smoke out of one's home. A person then cannot sell their home to get out of the smoke because no one will buy it, and at present the state has not protected the affected people.

Here are the towns that have banned OWFs: Granby, Tolland, Hebron, Woodbridge, South Windsor, Portland, Norfolk, Ridgefield, Haddam, Cheshire, West Hartford, Hamden, North Haven, New Fairfield, Rocky Hill, Avon and Simsbury. 

If your town is not listed here, you need to think seriously about getting your town to ban them. It usually takes one person who is willing to take the lead and go to their planning and zoning department and ask for a hearing. If this does not happen, all those people in towns not listed above become vulnerable. Once a neighbor starts to use an outdoor wood furnace -- if they are not banned in the town -- there is little you can do. Wood smoke has many of the same components as cigarette smoke, so breathing wood smoke 24/7 is really bad for one's health and will make people and their families sick.

 

Nancy Alderman,

President 

Environment and Human Health, Inc.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

May 2013

May 20, 2013

Fire destroys Wilmington pole barn, SUV

May 20, 2013

By CHRIS MORRIS - Staff Writer (cmorris@adirondackdailyenterprise.com) Adirondack Daily Enterprise

Fire destroyed a pole barn in Wilmington and a sport-utility vehicle early Monday morning. (Editor's note: This has been corrected to reflect that the SUV was not inside the pole barn.)

Firefighters responded to the blaze at 485 Hardy Road at 6:42 a.m., according to Essex County Emergency Services Director Don Jaquish.

"(The pole barn) was totaled," he said. "A car - a Honda Element - was also lost."

The property where the barn was located is owned by Nancy LaBlanc and J. Scott Avery, Jaquish said.

The fire has been deemed accidental, but the cause has not yet been determined, Jaquish said.

"There were outdoor wood boilers adjancent to the structure," Jaquish said. "But it's not known if they had anything to do with it."

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

May 16, 2013

Presque Isle passes wood-burning stove ordinance

May 16, 2013

Jordan Travis - News Staff Writer , The Alpena News

 

ROGERS CITY - Presque Isle County commissioners passed a new ordinance limiting the use of outdoor wood-burning furnaces at their Wednesday meeting.

Commissioners passed the new zoning ordinance unanimously after county Building Official Jim Zakshesky presented it to the board. The county planning commission recommended it after holding a public hearing. The ordinance is intended to address problems with smoke from these furnaces.

"This section is intended to ensure that outdoor wood-burning furnaces are utilized in a manner that does not create a nuisance and is not detrimental to the health, safety and general welfare of the residents of Presque Isle County," the ordinance states.

The new ordinance states that only those with lots one acre or larger will be able to use wood-burning furnaces. Furnaces must be at least 150 feet from any neighboring dwellings. The ordinance also establishes 50-foot setbacks from side and rear lot lines, and prohibits owners from putting the furnaces in their front yard.

Zakshesky said the ordinance is only for Presque Isle County's 11 townships that don't have their own zoning laws. This excludes Allis, Krakow and Presque Isle townships, although Commissioner Steve Lang said Presque Isle Township already has its own ordinance for wood-burning furnaces.

Those who already have wood-burning stoves won't be affected by the ordinance, Zakshesky said. Commissioner Mike Darga also pointed out it only covers wood-burning stoves, and doesn't outlaw outdoor fire pits or fireplaces.

Zakshesky told commissioners about complaints he's heard from neighbors of people with the wood-burning stoves. The stoves typically have short chimneys, and some use them year-round to heat water for their homes. Smoke from the furnaces can linger and cause a nuisance for neighbors, and Darga said the furnaces aren't designed to work with taller chimneys.

Board Vice Chairman Bob Schell said he doesn't think the new ordinance will have an overly harsh effect.

"On small residential lots, unless you own your own wood, (the furnaces are) not very economical to install and buy wood," he said. "I don't think this is going to be a hardship. Most of the cities don't allow them already."

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

May 5, 2013 (opinion)

Outdoor wood-fired boilers and U.S. 2013

Published: Thursday, May 2, 2013 5:06 PM CDT

By: Herald Argus, LaPorte, IN 

 

Folks, May 15 is almost here and we should be breathing a little better. What worries us is that Sept. 15 is just around the corner. 

Then we start all over again dealing with wood smoke from a county’s OWB’s in operation, 150-plus units.

Michigan City, La Porte and Long Beach, it was a waste of your time to ban the OWB units in your communities. The material from counties OWB’s travel for miles and stays airborne for weeks. 

Please ask Tony Mancuso of the La Porte County Health Department for a copy of the county map to see their locations. While you are talking to Mr. Mancuso, ask him if it is unhealthy for you and your family to breath smoke and the material from the counties’ outdoor wood-fired boiler installations. We have asked.

In 2011, a concerned educator wrote a letter to the county commissioners – but at that time they were too busy to be concerned. Nothing new since October 2004. 

“As an educator, my priority is to make sure that children are growing and thriving toward becoming successful adults. Children’s health is vital to their growth and educational success. The Michigan City Area Schools struggle with attendance problems due to illnesses, often including asthmas and upper respiratory infections. Because OWB units operate near schools in our county we may see ourselves obligated to limit outdoor physical exercise and activities for children.”

The website below will answer a lot of your question and give you many to ask your elected officials of La Porte County. Ask the doctors who treat you and your children to step up as well as the local school boards, Healthy Community and Save the Dunes. 

 

Jim Donnelly,

La Porte

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

May 1, 2013

The State Of The Nation’s Air, And Your Lungs

Posted: May 1, 2013

By: Ben Schiller, co.exist

As China disappears behind an ever thickening cloud of smog, we can be thankful of one thing here in the United States: the air’s getting cleaner (mostly). The American Lung Association’s State of the Air 2013 report shows that 18 cities have lower particle pollution, compared to previous years; 16 had their lowest ever figures. 

Still, the improvement isn’t across the board. Almost 25 million people live with unhealthy levels of ozone and particle pollution. And 131 million people (42%) live with one type or the other. California comes off particularly badly in the city rankings. The top-five most polluted metros by ozone, year-round, and short-term particulate pollution are all from that state. Bakersfield, which ranks highest for particulates among 277 metros, fares worst of all (though it has improved).

Overall, 119 counties have ozone levels that put citizens at risk from "aggravated asthma, difficulty breathing, cardiovascular harm and lower birth weight". Fifty-eight counties have particulate levels that "increase risks of heart attacks, strokes, and emergency room visits for asthma and cardiovascular disease." 

Some cities, such as Salt Lake City and Fairbanks, Alaska, are experiencing more frequent "short-term pollution spikes." Of 25 cities with the worst short-term problems, 14 had more poor days than in previous "State of the Air" reports. "In some cities, the increase comes from increased burning of wood and other fuels in the winter for heat, often in highly polluting indoor wood stoves or outdoor wood boilers," it says.

As for the cleanest places, New Mexico boasts two of the top five for particulates (Santa Fe and Farmington), Wyoming has another (Cheyenne), then there’s Prescott, Arizona, and St. George, Utah. To see where your city ranks, the Lung Association has a useful zip code search function. 

"State of the Air" uses data collected by the E.P.A. between 2009 and 2011, and its main point is to argue for continued enforcement of the Clean Air Act. Since its introduction in 1970, population and energy consumption have risen by roughly 50%, and gross domestic product by 212%, the report shows. And yet emissions of the six most common pollutants have fallen by 68%. China can only dream of such a growth to pollution ratio.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

April 2013

April 24, 2013

American Lung Association “State of the Air 2013” Report Finds Air Quality Improves Nationwide Despite More Spikes in Unhealthy Air Days

Released By: American Lung Association

Washington, D.C. (April 24, 2013)

The American Lung Association’s “State of the Air 2013” report released today finds significant progress in the reduction of year-round particle pollution (soot) across the nation, but many cities that ranked among the most polluted had more unhealthy days of high ozone (smog) and short-term particle pollution than in the 2012 report. Despite that uptick, “State of the Air 2013” shows that the air quality nationwide continues the long-term trend to much healthier air.

This year’s report reveals that many places made strong progress, particularly in lower year-round levels of particle pollution, compared to last year’s report. Lower particle pollution levels are a direct result of emissions reductions from the transition to cleaner diesel fuels and engines and coal-fired power plants, especially in the eastern United States.

Although year-round average levels for particles are steadily dropping, the reverse is true for short-term spikes in days with high particle counts. “State of the Air 2013” found that six cities had their worst year ever for short-term pollution spikes since the data started to be collected. Periods of unhealthy particle levels often occur in the winter, as has recently been the case in Fairbanks, Alaska, and Salt Lake City. In some cities, the particle pollution spikes come from increased burning of wood and other fuels for heat, often from highly polluting indoor wood stoves or outdoor wood boilers.

Mary Havell McGinty

American Lung Association

202-715-3459

mary.havell@lung.org

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

April 23, 2013

Mobile Home Fire

Updated Apr. 23, 2013 @ 10:36 am

Posted By: Macon Chronicle Herald

 

According to Atlanta Fire Chief Danny Magers, the Atlanta Fire Department responded to reports of a structure fire in Barnesville at the intersection of State Hwy OO and Hornet Street at approximately 3:15 p.m. on Saturday, April 20.

The fire, which was started from an outdoor wood furnace, traveled into the middle section of the mobile home where it was contained. According to Magers, the fire caused extensive heat and smoke damage to the rest of the residence. 

The resident was not home during the fire.

The Atlanta Fire Department, La Plata and Bevier tankers cleared the scene at 6:30 p.m. There were 12 personnel at the scene.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

April 17, 2013

Sanford man seriously burned in furnace fire

Posted: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 9:28 am 

Source: Weekly Observer

 

SANFORD – A Sanford man was seriously burned late Tuesday afternoon while tending to his outdoor wood furnace, according to the State Fire Marshal's Office. 

Fire investigators think a flammable liquid likely exploded as the man, 39-year-old Thomas Basinger of 572 Lebanon Road, was attempting to ignite the fire in the furnace, located in his back yard.

Basinger was taken by ambulance to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston with burns to over 90 percent of his body. Basinger’s wife, Karie, used a garden hose to extinguish the fire after hearing her husband’s cries for help.

Investigators are attempting to determine the type of flammable liquid Basinger was using.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

April 17, 2013

Exploding furnace burns Sanford man

By: WCSH 6 , Portland News

Posted: Apr 17, 2013 

SANFORD, Maine (AP) - Officials with the State Fire Marshal's Office say a Sanford man was severely injured when a wood furnace exploded in his backyard.

Authorities say Thomas Basinger, 39, was trying to ignite a fire in the furnace on his Lebanon Road property when it exploded Tuesday afternoon. Officials say he suffered burns on more than 90 percent of his body. 

Investigators say Basinger's wife doused her husband with a garden hose. He was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston for treatment.

Officials believe Basinger used a flammable liquid in the furnace that exploded when he tried to light it. They're trying to determine exactly what happened.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

April 17, 2013

Sanford man badly burned

By Tammy Wells, Senior Staff Writer

Published: Wednesday, April 17, 2013 12:05 PM EDT

 

SANFORD — A local man sustained serious burns Tuesday afternoon when fuel ignited as he was re-stoking his outdoor wood furnace. 

Thomas Basinger, 39, was first taken to Goodall Hospital and then to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston by ambulance, accompanied by paramedics from Sanford Fire Department and medical personnel from Goodall Hospital, said Sanford Fire Chief Jeff Rowe.

Maine Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland said the State Fire Marshal’s Office reported that Basinger sustained burns to 90 percent of his body. The State Fire Marshal’s Office investigates anytime there is a fire-related injury. 

Authorities at press time this morning said Basinger is in critical condition.

Rowe said firefighters got the call after 4 p.m. Tuesday. 

He said Basinger, who lives at 572 Lebanon St., had been attempting to re-stoke the fire in his Wood Doctor outside furnace by applying liquid fuel – firefighters are investigating and think it may have been diesel fuel – when it ignited. Firefighters found a partially burned fuel can outside the furnace door.

Basinger’s wife, Karie, used a garden hose to extinguish the fire after hearing her husband’s cries for help and a passerby saw what was happening and helped her dowse the flames, said Rowe.

 

Sanford firefighters had originally called for rescue helicopters to transport Basinger, but two Maine helicopters were on other calls and then hampered by weather and a New Hampshire-based helicopter was unable to respond, also because of weather conditions.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

April 16, 2013

Sanford man suffers serious burns in backyard blaze

By Dawn Gagnon, BDN Staff

Posted April 16, 2013, at 8:14 p.m.     

SANFORD, Maine — A 39-year-old Sanford man was taken to a Boston hospital Tuesday after he was seriously burned while tending his outdoor wood furnace. 

Thomas Basinger of 572 Lebanon Road suffered burns to more than 90 percent of his body, Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland said in a news release Tuesday evening.

Investigators from the state fire marshal’s office believe that a flammable liquid likely exploded as the man was attempting to ignite a fire in the furnace, located in his backyard. 

Basinger was taken by ambulance to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, McCausland said.

Basinger’s wife, Karie, used a garden hose to extinguish the fire after hearing her husband’s cries for help. Investigators are attempting to determine the type of flammable liquid Basinger was using, McCausland said.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

April 16, 2013

Sanford man suffers burns after furnace explodes

By Dennis Hoey dhoey@mainetoday.com Staff Writer 

April 16, 2013

SANFORD — A Sanford man suffered burns to over 90 percent of his body after flammable liquid inside an outdoor wood furnace exploded Tuesday afternoon.

Steve McCausland, a spokesman for the State Fire Marshal’s Office, said that 39-year-old Thomas Basinger of 572 Lebanon Road, had to be transported by ambulance to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. 

Investigators said Basinger was tending a wood furnace in his backyard and attempting to ignite a fire when the explosion occurred.

His wife, Karie, used a garden hose to extinguish the fire after hearing her husband’s cries for help.

Investigators are trying to determine what type of flammable liquid Basinger was using.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

April 10, 2013

Fire destroys shed

By: Phil Foley

April 10, 2013

NORTH BRANCH TWP. — Firefighters are blaming embers from an outdoor wood furnace and high winds for a fire Sunday that destroyed an 18-by-30 shed. 

North Branch Fire Dept. Chief Ken Jentzen said the shed was fully engulfed when his crew arrived at the home on the 4500 block of Jefferson Road. Central Dispatch called out the department at 12:30 a.m.

Jentzen said it appeared the home owner had cleaned embers out of an outdoor wood furnace and wind blew some of the still hot embers under the wooden building. He said it appeared the only thing in the building at the time of the blaze was an old refrigerator. 

Still, fire officials estimated damage at $10,000.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

April 8, 2013

STILL LIFE: Winslow fire

 Posted: Morning Sentinel, April 8, 2013

 

A man uses a tractor to push over a burning pile of firewood as a Winslow firefighter pours water on it at a home off the North Reynolds Road on a windy Sunday. Dominic Carter of Winslow called the fire department after noticing a fire started in the woodpile next to his outdoor wood boiler. Winslow Fire Department responded to his home at 103 North Reynolds Road for over an hour and reported there was no damage other than to the pile of wood.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

March 2013

March 22, 2013

Tempers boil over boiler

By: Tammy Francois, Lake County News Chronicle Published March 22, 2013

 

Bill DeRoche says he has spent far too much time indoors since September. That’s when his neighbors installed an outdoor wood-burning boiler that he says has caused his chronic obstructive pulmonary disease symptoms to grow worse, irritating a smoke allergy and resulting in severe headaches.

A machine with a HEPA filter whirrs in one corner of his home and he has a nebulizer and several inhalers on the kitchen table that overlooks his neighbors’ yard where grey smoke issues from the boiler’s chimney. 

The Knife River resident estimates that the boiler is about 40 feet from his door; a short journey for the smoke and particulates to find their way into his home.

“When the wind comes from the south, which is often, my home is covered with smoke. The smoke is also taken into my home by the cold air intake for my furnace,” he said. “I have to wear a breather mask to walk anywhere on my property.” 

Liz Pearce, who lives in the house next door with her husband and three young sons, said that the boiler was installed to save money when her husband was laid off. She said that they have lengthened the smoke stack and added insulation to address DeRoche’s concerns, and up until recently, the relationship between the neighbors had been amicable.

“We’ve been very blessed by Bill,” she said, noting that DeRoche gave the family a lawnmower and gifts after their one-year old son was born last year. They have reciprocated with baked goods, soup and by praying for DeRoche daily, she said. 

Also, said Pearce, DeRoche’s shed is fully on her family’s property — not an issue until recently, when she said he began painting messages on the shed that she finds offensive and intimidating.

“It’s turned into aggressive behavior. As soon as he (painted the messages) I think he went below the belt. That’s bullying and harassment,” she said. She called law enforcement about the messages, but was told that DeRoche was acting within his freedom of speech rights. 

DeRoche acknowledges painting provocative messages and that his relationship with his neighbors has broken down due to the disagreement over the boiler. He says his frustration has driven him to begin calling and mailing county officials to see what can be done to address the problem of the smoke.

Michelle Backes-Fogelberg, public health Supervisor for Lake County, received some of that correspondence and visited his home last month. She took photographs of the smoke and called the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for information. She said she also brought DeRoche a supply of masks to help filter the air he breathes, but that there is little else she can do at this point, since no ordinances against the use of outdoor wood-burning boilers exist for areas outside of the cities in Lake County. Two Harbors does have one on its books, but Knife River is without its own government, so it falls under county jurisdiction. 

“It’s frustrating for all of us,” Backes-Fogelberg said. “Without the ordinance, our hands are tied. To date, no such ordinance has been proposed.

Lake County Attorney Laura Auron said she too has been researching the issue, and like Backes-Fogelberg, has found no county ordinances addressing the matter. 

“Almost all of (the ordinances) are for cities, as opposed to counties,” Auron said, adding the passing of a new ordinance takes time.

“It’s a little bit of a lengthy process,” Auron said. In the meantime, she said her staff, too, has contacted the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency for input. They’ve discovered that there has been some debate about possible public health risks linked to the use of wood-burning boilers. 

The issue has also been brought to the attention of the Lake County Board of Commissioners. DeRoche said that Commissioner Rich Sve has been to his home, too.

“The county recently received a number of letters from Mr. DeRoche related to his neighbors’ boiler. At this time we are looking into the complaint and possible solutions. We have the county attorney, planning and zoning administrator and our public health supervisor investigating the issue,” Sve said. 

“We sympathize with Mr. DeRoche’s situation and hope that a solution may be found to alleviate his discomfort.”

DeRoche said that while officials have been sympathetic, their sympathy is not what he needs. 

“I must wait patiently … so that government can move slowly,” he said.

On Monday, DeRoche said he called 911 for help because he couldn’t breathe. 

“Last night, I couldn’t get up from my chair to get to my meds,” he said, adding that what he misses most is being able to go make a cup of tea and go out on his deck in the evening.

“I like to go out and look at the night sky and I haven’t been able to do that all winter. Some people say that it makes them feel insignificant, but it fills me with great joy.”

Full Article:  CLICK HERE

 

March 18, 2013

Trial date set for civil suit over Woodriver outdoor boilers

Staff Report | Posted: Monday, March 18, 2013 11:13 pm

FAIRBANKS — A civil jury trial date of Sept. 16 has been set for the owners of two outdoor wood boilers in west Fairbanks.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation is seeking a permanent injunction to stop residents Andrew and Gloria Straugn from using their wood boilers because of the quantity of smoke they produce and their proximity to Woodriver Elementary School. Last month, the court signed a preliminary injunction banning the use of the boilers during litigation.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

March 17, 2013

 

City of Oneida could restrict outdoor furnaces

By NED CAMPBELL

Observer-Dispatch

Posted Mar 17, 2013

 

ONEIDA — The city has no laws in place to keep smoke-producing outdoor furnaces out of densely populated neighborhoods.

But that could change if the Common Council decides to move forward with a new law to replace one adopted in 2009. The law, an amendment to the city code, is meant to protect residents from offensive odors and adverse health effects the furnaces are capable of producing.

“We didn’t have any regulation on where you can locate them and we had some fears that somebody might want to put one in a residential zone, a small lot that would really affect the neighborhood,” said Pat Baron, the city’s code enforcement officer.

The outdoor furnaces, also known as wood boilers, started popping up about 10 years ago as an economical alternative to conventional heating, Baron said.

“The ones that I have seen do smoke quite a bit,” he said.

The city has seven permitted outdoor furnaces, which would be grandfathered in. But Baron said there are a couple being operated without a permit that would have to meet the new requirements or be removed.

Under the proposed law, outdoor furnaces could be installed only on properties of at least three acres and would have to be at least 200 feet from property lines.

The law limits use of the furnaces to Sept. 1 through May 31.

 “If the city were to adopt that, somebody might also have to have a propane or backup water heater (installed) for the times of year when we don’t allow them to be running,” Baron said.

The council will conduct a public hearing to consider the proposed law at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday but does not plan to adopt it that night.

The council could adopt the law as-is or with minor changes made on April 2, City Clerk Susan Pulverenti said. Any major changes would require another public hearing.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

March 14, 2013 (OWBs discussed)

 

Rolly: Why does Rep. Mike Noel hate my kids and grandkids? 

By Paul Rolly - Tribune Columnist

Published Mar 14 2013 05:10 pm

 

I wrote recently about Rep. Mike Noel’s treatment of an environmental attorney when she appeared before the House Natural Resources, Agriculture and Environment Committee that he chairs.

The Kanab Republican repeatedly asked how many times she had sued the state and would not accept her answers that she was not involved in lawsuits over the Alton Coal project in southern Utah, basically calling her a liar.

He said he just wanted to know why she hated his kids and grandkids so much that she tried to prevent them from getting jobs.

Questioning the attorney’s honesty is interesting since Noel passed out a flier on the House floor this week in support of his bill to ease regulations on outdoor wood boilers that contained blatant falsehoods.

Once the misinformation was known among key legislators in the Senate, Noel’s HB394 was squelched on the last day of the session.

The flier claimed that outdoor wood boilers "are completely legal in 49 other states." 

Not true.

Outdoor wood boilers are completely banned in Oregon and Washington, and in numerous other states they are banned in certain counties or areas vulnerable to inversions. Utah has similar regulations, banning the wood boilers in the Salt Lake and Cache valley basins when pollution exceeds EPA standards.

Noel’s bill would have required the Division of Air Quality to regulate outdoor burners the same as indoor wood-burning stoves, and the flier claimed the outdoor boilers are more efficient than indoor stoves.

But John Ackerly, of Alliance for Green Heat, says that claim is not true and the pollution from outdoor boilers is dangerous in basin areas susceptible to inversions. The bill is being pushed by a large manufacturer, Central Boiler, which Ackerly claims "is making the whole industry look bad by misrepresenting facts."

So here is my question to Noel: Why do you hate my kids and grandkids so much that you want to make them breathe unregulated dirty air that will make them sick?

Full Article: CLICK HERE

March 14, 2013 (OWBs discussed)

 

MANCHESTER: Township to pay more for emergency, fire services

By Nathaniel Siddall, Manchester Enterprise

Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013

 

The Manchester Township Board of Trustees approved a contract with the Clinton Fire Department, which will increase the amounts Manchester Township pays for emergency and fire assistance.

The board also approved an amendment to the zoning ordinance, to regulate outdoor wood-burning furnaces.

The law will affect outdoor stoves, which burn wood, corn, pellets, cherry pits or coal. These have become popular for home heating, but it will not apply to existing installations.

According to the language of the ordinance, it is intended to protect against air pollution and fire hazards.

The primary terms of the law are that outdoor furnaces will be allowed only in agricultural/rural, and Low-density Residential districts, will require a certificate of compliance, and must be located at least 150 feet from property lines.

The law also specifies that furnaces must be located in the rear yard and that a 25-foot radius around the furnace must be kept clear of shrubbery. Chimney height must be adjusted to prevent smoke from creating a nuisance to neighbors.

Stumpo voted against the furnace ordinance, while other trustees voted in favor.

The law was developed by the planning commission, and had been presented to the board at previous meetings, but the board had requested several changes before agreeing to vote on it.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

March 13, 2013

 

Limits are sought on outdoor wood furnaces

Danny Ramey, Herald Staff Writer

March 13, 2013

 

A Leadville resident would like to see the city put limits on outdoor wood furnaces and boilers.

Cameron Millard addressed the Leadville City Council regarding the burners, also called outdoor hydronic heaters, at its regular meeting on Feb. 19.

*Subscription Required for full article

 

Link to Article: CLICK HERE

March 11, 2013 (OWBs discussed)

 

Aquatic center commission loses chairman

By Steve Dunn The Daily Gate

Monday, March 11, 2013

Keokuk Aquatic Center Commission chairman Mike Girard’s resignation Thursday prompted the Keokuk City Council to look at council representation on the aquatic center commission and other boards and commissions. 

In other business, the council:

Approved the first reading of an ordinance dealing with outdoor wood furnaces. The only change in the measure that was discussed earlier is the requirement for current owners of outdoor wood furnaces to register with the city.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

February 2013

February 28, 2013

Zoning Law for Outdoor Wood Furnaces Discussed

By Margo Frink, Madison County Courier

February 28, 2013

(Oneida, NY – Feb. 2013) One of the items on the Oneida Planning Commissions agenda Thursday (Feb. 21) was a zoning ordinance amendment recommendation to add a new section to regulate outdoor furnaces.

Planning Director Cassie Rose said the Common Council requested the Commission review a proposed Local Law that would be added to the zoning ordinance deleting the city’s chapter section added in 2009. The purpose, she said, was to allow residents to request variances.

The state Department of Conservation requires that outdoor furnaces be 100 feet from a neighboring boundary line. The city’s code is 200 feet. City law also states an outdoor wood furnace cannot be placed on property less than three acres.

Madison County Planning suggested the Planning Commission review the DEC’s regulations regarding outdoor furnaces.

There was a lengthy discussion and several suggestions made at the Feb. 21 meeting. Mayor A. Max Smith, Councilman Jim Chamberlain and Tim Cowan from the fire department were in attendance.

Rose said she didn’t want to get into a situation where the city had issues enforcing the law.

Commission Chair Fred Meyers brought up Method 9, used by the DEC to determine opacity – meaning the state or quality of being opaque – of smoke from outdoor furnaces.

The DEC’s website reads, “No person shall operate an outdoor wood boiler in such a manner as to create a smoke plume with opacity of 20 percent or greater (six minute mean) as determined using EPA Reference Method 9 (or equivalent).

To use this method, a city employee or whoever enforces the code, would need field training in “smoke reading.” Rose and members of the Commission said it would most likely be codes enforcement Officer Pat Baron, and training is required every six months, Rose said.

Also cited from the DEC is no person shall allow or cause emissions of air contaminants from outdoor wood furnaces/boilers to the outdoor atmosphere of a quantity or duration which injures human, plant or animal life or to property that unreasonable interferes with comfortable enjoyment of life or property.

“Are we getting complaints from residents?” asked Commissioner Kipp Hicks.

“We do,” said Commissioner Geoff Snyder.

An emailed letter from a resident in the southern end of the county circulated. The resident claims “severe” health issues related to a neighboring outdoor wood furnace.

The opacity from outdoor wood boilers could change or increase if a resident is not following guidelines to what is burnable. Clean wood or wood that has not been painted, stained or treated is a factor. Residents are also not allowed to burn garbage. The DEC’s website lists numerous dos and don’ts regarding the purchase, installation, use and care of these heating sources.

Chamberlain made a suggestion the code allow the furnace to be installed 150 feet from the neighboring boundary line instead of 200 feet.

The Planning Commission documented everyone’s concerns and suggestions and plans to hand the information back to the Common Council to address.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

February 21, 2013

 

Shippensburg council passes noise, outdoor burning ordinances

Debbie Chestnut The Sentinel

February 21, 2013 9:00 pm 

Amendments to noise and outdoor burning ordinances were passed Tuesday night by Shippensburg Borough Council, and changes to its parking code will be advertised. 

The noise ordinance now prohibits disturbances from private properties that can be heard across property or boundary lines between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., as well as disturbances from devices that can be heard across property or boundary lines or from a distance of 50 feet, regardless of the hour. It also lowers the minimum fine to $25.

The board passed the ordinance by a 5-1 vote. Steve Brenize was the only member who voted no. 

Two weeks ago, Brenize also voted against advertising the ordinance. He said at that time it needed “to be more specific.”

“It’s a step in the right direction, but there has to be tangible evidence that it creates harm to somebody,” he said. “There has to be a victim.” 

The outdoor burning ordinance passed by a 6-0 vote.

The ordinance allows the use of chimneys and factory-built novelty stoves, and sets requirements for other types of outdoor burning (such as recreational fires, bonfires, and charcoal burners and other open-flame cooking devices). It prohibits burning refuse, rubbish and waste; incinerators; construction burning; and outdoor wood-fired boilers.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

February 21, 2013

South St. Paul looks to ban wood-fired boilers used to heat homes

By Nick Ferraro

nferraro@pioneerpress.com

Posted:   02/21/2013 12:01:00 AM CST

 

South St. Paul could become the next metro-area city to ban outdoor wood-fired boilers, which are considered by some as an economical way to provide heat to homes and a nuisance by others.

A number of cities have restricted or banned the burners in recent years, including Eagan, Inver Grove Heights and Stillwater, as a way to control air pollutants and smell they produce. 

Although South St. Paul has not had to deal with complaints from neighbors as many cities have, "staff believes it is in the best interest to have black and white regulations related to these devices," City Planner Peter Hellegers wrote in a staff memo to the city council this week.

The proposed ordinance amendment would prohibit the boilers, which generally are located in sheds and pump heat to homes through pipes. 

Because typical South St. Paul lots are 5,000 square feet or less and 40 feet wide, city staff concluded that setbacks and standards would not be effective, Hellegers said.

The council will consider adopting the ordinance at its March 4 meeting. 

Nick Ferraro can be reached at 651-228-2173.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

February 20, 2013

 

Strasburg Village Council, Feb. 19 meeting

By Barb Limbacher

TimesReporter.com correspondent

Posted Feb 20, 2013 @ 11:43 PM

 

OTHER ACTION

• Heard the first reading of an ordinance regulating outdoor wood furnaces, outdoor wood burners, boilers and heaters.

Full Article: CLICK HERE 

February 20, 2013

 

Couple shuts down disputed outdoor boilers in University West

Sam Friedman/sfriedman@newsminer.com

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 12:00 am

 

FAIRBANKS — It appears a University West couple has shut down two wood boilers, which have a reputation for being especially smoky, in compliance with a temporary court order.

In the days after a Feb. 4 court order to stop burning while a lawsuit is in progress, there were complaints from neighbors about continued smoke. There have not been complaints in the past few days, said Assistant Attorney General Cameron Leonard, who is representing the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation in a civil lawsuit against the boiler owners. 

The state DEC is seeking a court order that would permanently force boiler owners Andrew and Gloria Straughn to stop using the units.

If the Straughns had refused to comply with the court order, the state’s recourse would be to motion the court to find them in contempt of court, Leonard told the News-Miner. No such motions are being prepared. 

“The order was signed on the 4th (of February). It wasn’t distributed until the 6th. We don’t know when Mr. Straughn actually first got it. We’re giving him the benefit of the doubt as far as the first few days,” Leonard said. “Our working assumption is that once the order came to the attention of Mr. Straughn he hasn’t been operating (the boilers).”

The Straughns have not responded to phone calls from the News-Miner requesting information about the status of the wood boilers. Their attorney, Jason Gazewood, has filed a response to the state’s initial filing indicating the Straughns plan to contest the state’s suit. 

The boilers were installed in 2008. For years, they have drawn complaints from neighbors, particularly at nearby Woodriver Elementary School. Neighbors say smoke from the boilers makes the neighborhood air unhealthy. 

Contact staff writer Sam Friedman at 459-7545.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

February 16, 2013

 

Fairbanks area, trying to stay warm, chokes on wood stove pollution

Wood-burning stoves give the Fairbanks, Alaska, area some of the worst winter air pollution in the country.

February 16, 2013|By Kim Murphy, Los Angeles Times

 

NORTH POLE, Alaska — In Krystal Francesco's neighborhood, known here as the "rectangle of death," the air pollution recently was so thick she could hardly see across the street. Wood stoves were cranking all over town — it was 40 below zero — and she had to take her daughter to the emergency room.

"She's crying because she can't breathe, and I can just see her stomach rapidly going in and out. Sometimes, she's coughing to the point of throwing up," Francesco said of her 2½-year-old daughter, Kalli, who uses two different inhalers. "Even in the house, the smoke is coming in and it smells awful."

Most people think of Alaska as one of the last great escapes from urban pollution. But they have not spent a winter in Fairbanks or the nearby town of North Pole, where air-quality readings in November were twice as bad as Beijing's.

Here, it's not freeways or factories fouling the air — it's wood stoves and backyard wood furnaces that send thick clouds of gray smoke roiling into the pines. On the cold, clear days when the temperature hits minus 50, an inversion layer often traps a blanket of smoke near the ground, and driving to work in North Pole can be like motoring through fog.

"It's like soup. Like gray soup. I call it the epicenter of hideousness," said Angela Dowler, a veterinarian.

Yet this is Alaska's freedom belt, and nearly every attempt to regulate the offending stoves has been beaten back at the polls — most recently in October, with an initiative prohibiting the borough from regulating any heating appliance using any fuel in any way.

"This whole thing has gotten conflated in Fairbanks: 'My wood burner is next to my gun — don't take it out of my cold, dead hands,'" said Sylvia Schultz, who runs a clean air advocacy website. Schultz moved to Washington state in July after her husband was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat and her daughter faced the prospect of attending middle school in a high-smoke zone.

"What's different in Fairbanks is that people are burning not just wood, but coal, and no one's stopping it. They're promoting it," Schultz said.

Cities across the country struggle with the same kind of soot pollution that is plaguing Fairbanks: tiny particles measured as PM2.5, so small they can lodge deeply in the lungs and cause respiratory ailments, heart problems and possibly lung cancer.

Salt Lake City has lately been tagged as having some of the nation's dirtiest air, but here it often is worse. Since the beginning of the winter stove season, the greater Fairbanks area has logged 48 days that exceeded health limits established by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. The Los Angeles Basin had only 13 such days in all of 2011.

The smoke in Salt Lake City is attributed mainly to industry and automobiles, while Los Angeles suffers from ozone pollution and the myriad effects of diesel and car exhaust, along with pollution from ships, planes and other facts of urban life.

A toxic fog in Salt Lake City in January drew international headlines when it hit three times the pollution allowed by the federal Clean Air Act, but those levels also are far from unheard of in the Fairbanks region.

"This is a place where the [levels] are just ridiculous," said Dowler, who suffers from an irregular heartbeat during the heavy-burning winter months. Her teenage son has had a persistent respiratory infection since September and was recently diagnosed with pleuritis, an inflammation of the lining of the lungs.

Francesco has had to start using an inhaler after she exercises. "We have worse pollution than L.A., and it's just ridiculous that nothing's been done," she said.

One reason the area's air problem seems so intractable is that, in one of the coldest inhabited regions on earth, there are few affordable alternatives to burning wood and coal.

Though the city lies just 500 miles south of some of the biggest gas fields in the world, there is as yet no way to move it, and Fairbanks has limited access to natural gas. Since 2008, when fuel oil prices took a sharp upswing, residents have been paying $4.50 a gallon to fill their furnaces.

"People seriously were in a panic. It really became a question of heat or eat," said Michael Dukes, a member of the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly who recently installed a coal stove — only slightly less polluting than a wood stove — in his home in North Pole's rectangle of death. "I was paying twice what my mortgage was just to heat my home."

Borough officials are asking residents to install low-emission stoves and burn dry wood. They are discussing a plan to pay families up to $1,000 a year to burn oil instead of wood on bad air days.

Borough air quality manager James Conner said the October ballot measure rebuffed broader attempts to outlaw smoky boilers or adopt burn bans, and also prevented any controls on what residents burn in their outdoor units.

"The interpretation is, it applies to any combustible fuel. Natural gas. Trash. Tires.... Railroad ties. Feces. Animal carcasses," he said.

Do people actually burn such material? "Yes, absolutely they do," Conner said. "You would not believe what they burn."

Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins said he had warned the community that failure to meet the EPA's December 2014 deadline for complying with federal air quality standards could lead to onerous reviews on new construction and restrictions on federal transportation funds.

"There's a lot of people who say, 'Tell the EPA to go to hell.' People don't like the idea of the EPA coming into a community and saying, 'You shall.' But it's because Congress said we shall have clean air. This is a health issue," Hopkins said. 

Responsibility now lies chiefly with the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which is weighing new regulations of its own. The agency initiated a lawsuit last month against a landlord who has been using two smoky outdoor wood boilers to heat rental properties he owns in Fairbanks across the street from Woodriver Elementary School — where the staff had been complaining for years.

"Our eyes hurt; our throats hurt," said counselor Dawn Brashear, who developed a cyst — her doctor said it could have been caused by the smoke — in her left sinus. It required two surgeries. 

The school installed an air filtration system that helped, but Brashear said an acrid haze still blankets the playground when an inversion layer holds it close to the ground.

"The borough keeps saying, 'We have to educate, we need to advise people, it needs to be voluntary,'" she said. "If someone mugs me, am I supposed to ask them to stop?"

kim.murphy@latimes.com

Full Article: CLICK HERE

February 14, 2013

Court orders shutdown of wood boilers at Fairbanks home

Published: February 14, 2013

The Associated Press

FAIRBANKS, Alaska — A court has ordered a homeowner in a Fairbanks neighborhood to shut down their two outdoor, wood-fired boilers.

The two boilers on property owned by Andrew and Gloria Straugn were installed in 2008 and have long been a source of conflict with neighbors, especially a nearby elementary school concerned about the wood smoke coming from the boilers.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner says the Department of Environmental Conservation asked the court for a preliminary injunction to block use of the boilers during litigation. DEC provided the court with excerpts about the wood smoke from journals written by students at the school. 

A lawyer representing the couple filed a response denying most of the state's allegations.

Superior Court Judge Robert Downs granted the injunction request on Feb. 4.

Full Article: CLICK HERE


Read more here: http://www.adn.com/2013/02/14/2789590/court-orders-shutdown-of-wood.html#storylink=cpy

February 13, 2013

 

Around The Region

By: Tri-States Public Radio

February 13, 2013

 

A quick look at news from throughout the Tri-State region.

KEOKUK, IA 

The Keokuk City Council could start regulating outdoor wood furnaces, which are becoming more popular within city limits as people try to reduce their heating bills.

Fire Chief Gabe Rose says his department receives 5-10 complaints per month, during burning season, about smoke entering the homes of neighbors. 

City staff has come up with a set of rules and regulations that cover everything from height and location to penalties and registration.

The first vote on the ordinance could come next month.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

February 12, 2013 (OWBs discussed)

 

Short takes on the news

By: Salt Lake Tribune

Published Feb 12 2013 09:26 pm  

Do it for your air »

We are not the only ones to deride Gov. Gary Herbert for entertaining the thought that voluntary, individual actions can make much of a dent in the horrible air pollution that parts of northern Utah increasingly suffer. But the governor is right when he says the solution will require lots of different actions from lots of different actors. One of those is properly moving along at the Utah Air Quality Board, which has drafted rules that would require many different chemical products sold in the state to come only in versions that emit smaller amounts of fumes and vapors. Restrictions on such things as hair gels, window cleaners and paint thinners are already required in 38 states, so nobody is reinventing the wheel here. The panel is also planning a ban on outdoor wood boilers, another contributor to the area’s foul air. These are things that must be done to keep our community livable.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

February 12, 2013 (video)

 

Proposal in Keokuk would regulate outdoor wood furnace use

By Andy Devine, Multimedia Journalist

Posted: Feb 12, 2013 9:50 AM CST

KEOKUK, Ia. (WGEM) -

 

Some people in Keokuk say their neighbors are smoking them out with their outdoor wood furnaces. 

One woman said the problem got so bad that she went to the city with their concerns.

"It takes your breath away. I don't know how to describe it. My eyes burn, my throat burns, I can't swallow." 

This Keokuk resident, who said she was afraid to go on camera because she is feuding with her neighbor, describes how she feels when her neighbor is running his outdoor wood furnace next door.

Keokuk Mayor Tom Marion says wood furnaces have become popular because of the money people can save on their energy bills. 

"Normally they're out in the country and that's where you see them, but now they are moving into towns, not just Keokuk but other towns," said Marion.

Marion said the city received a complaint from a resident about the smoke from a neighbor's furnace and said that's what got the city council talking. 

They're now proposing an ordinance that would force residents to increase the height of their flue, if neighbors complained of smoke.

Keokuk City Council Member John Helenthal, who also has an outdoor wood furnace, said he did have an incident with his neighbor over his furnace in the past. 

"The air was real heavy. One of them real heavy days and it was blowing and it was blowing directly at my neighbors and with bad weather coming, I didn't give it a thought," said Helenthal.

But Helenthal said he worked with his neighbors and solved the problem. 

"I extended the flu up to about 42 feet off the pad. That for the most part does a real good job," said Helenthal.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

February 10, 2013 (opinion)

 

Letter: Turn up the heat on wood boilers

To the editor

Published 9:03 pm, Sunday, February 10, 2013

 

The Lung Association has fought hard for regulations against outdoor wood boilers because the health effects of wood smoke exposure, including wheezing, coughing and increased asthma attacks, are abundant. We empathize with the Lichaks and hope to see a resolution to their issues in the near future ("Where there's dense smoke, there's ire," Jan. 13).

Outdoor wood boilers pollute the air and make breathing difficult for those forced to breathe emissions from these devices. The bottom line is these devices negatively affect air quality and negatively affect lung health. While we commend the state Department of Environmental Conservation for regulating the use of such devices outdoors, it is clear the state needs to do more and also address instances where indoor burning is having a measurable effect on one's neighbors. Burning wood in close proximity to residential housing, without setback or stack regulation, creates a corridor for dirty air.

One solution may be offering an incentive for New Yorkers to upgrade to cleaner, more efficient devices. The American Lung Association of the Northeast has previously spearheaded woodstove changeout projects in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. These programs offer residents a cash voucher for buying a new, EPA-certified wood stove in replace of their outdated, dirty units. 

Situations like this one simply cannot continue. Wood smoke emissions contain components such as carbon monoxide, various irritant gases and chemicals known or suspected to be carcinogens. We call on the state and the DEC to take a closer look at wood burning as a heat source.

 

JEFF SEYLER

President and CEO

American Lung Associationof the Northeast

Albany

Full Article: CLICK HERE

February 8, 2013

 

Council acts on noise and outdoor burning ordinances

Backyard fire rings and chimneas get okay in borough

By DALE HEBERLIG Managing Editor

Published: Friday, February 8, 2013 2:21 PM EST

 

The approval for advertisement of two ordinances – a new outdoor burning regulation and an amendment to the borough’s noise ordinance – were among a list of actions by Shippensburg Borough Council Tuesday evening. 

Both measures received extensive scrutiny in discussion by Council in previous meetings.

When adopted, the outdoor burning measure becomes a new ordinance (Chapter 109), replacing a portion of the borough’s current Chapter 99 that governs garbage, rubbish, refuse and recycling. 

The outdoor burning ordinance permits various recreational fires that were previously banned throughout the borough, including the use of chimneas, charcoal burners and other open-flame devices for the sole purpose of cooking, recreational fires contained in a fire ring with a maximum diameter of three feet and bonfires. Bonfires are permitted only with the issuance of a permit issued by the borough and its fire chief.

Borough Councilwoman Kerri Burros sponsored the change on behalf of neighbors in her Herwen Village neighborhood, where she said backyard fires are a popular recreation for residents. 

Burning of rubbish remains illegal under provisions of the new ordinance, along with burning of construction materials, outdoor wood-fires boilers and incinerators.

The measure also includes specific guidelines for the use of any of the permitted fires. A property owner or the owner’s agent (with a minimum age of 18) must personally supervise any fire and be with the fire at all times. No accelerants may be used. A fire extinguisher or other fire-extinguishing equipment such as dirt, sand, water tank or garden hose must be present and ashes must be disposed of properly. 

The ordinance includes a list of exceptions that are allowed when a permit is issued.

Fines ranging from $100-$1,000 dollars are established for violations.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

February 8, 2013

 

Wood furnaces hot topic at council meeting

By Steve Dunn Managing editor | Posted: Friday, February 8, 2013 12:00 pm


A proposed ordinance to regulate the use of outdoor wood furnaces has a lit a fire under some Keokuk citizens. 

During Thursday’s Keokuk City Council workshop, a handful of outdoor wood furnace owners expressed skepticism about the proposal, which originated in the Code Revision Subcommittee.

The devices, which also are known as outdoor wood boilers or hydronic heaters, are gaining popularity as people try to cut their energy costs. However, the city is receiving an increased number of complaints about them, according to Fire Chief Gabe Rose and Community Development Director Pam Broomhall. 

If city authorities find that an existing outdoor wood furnace is creating a verifiable nuisance, then the furnace’s chimney would have to be modified so it is 15 to 25 feet above ground level, according to the proposal.

Setbacks and chimney heights also are addressed in the proposed five-page ordinance. The setbacks for new outdoor wood furnace models not EPA-qualified would be as follows: At least 50 feet from the property line and at least 100 feet from any residence that is not served by the outdoor wood furnace. The chimney of any new outdoor wood furnace not EPA-qualified would have to extend at least two feet above the peak of any residence not served by the furnace located within 300 feet of such furnace. 

An EPA-qualified outdoor wood furnace would have to be located on property in compliance with the manufacturer’s recommendations. The chimney should be at least two feet higher than the peak of the residence served if the furnace is located within 300 feet of any residence not served by the furnace. If the outdoor wood furnace is located within 100 feet of any residence not served by the furnace, the chimney would have to be two feet higher than the peak of the residence served or not served, which ever was higher.

The proposed ordinance also prohibits certain types of fuel in any new or existing outdoor wood furnace:

Wood that has been painted, varnished or coated with similar material or has been pressure treated with preservatives and contains resins or glues as in plywood or other composite wood products. 

Rubbish or garbage, including food wastes, food packaging and food wraps.

Any plastic materials, including nylon, PVC, polystyrene or urethane foam, and synthetic fabrics, plastic films and plastic containers. 

Rubber, including tires or other synthetic rubber-like products.

Newspaper, cardboard or any paper with ink or dye products. 

Lonnie McCarty, who installed an outdoor wood furnace at his residence in 2009, said the smoke often depends on air quality.

“If your flue is 15 feet and the air is heavy, the smoke will come down,” McCarty said. 

His outdoor wood furnace has filled the Southeastern Community College parking lot in Keokuk when the air was heavy, he added. The manufacturer recommends a three-foot flue on his unit, he said.

While the gas bills for heating his other properties during December-February were at least $500 a month, his heating bill at home has been less than $30 a month during the same period, he said. 

Another woman said the smoke from her brother-in-law’s outdoor wood furnace will come over to her house if he raises the stack on his unit.

Council member John Helenthal, who has an outdoor wood furnace, said he’d like to see the proposed ordinance not take effect until May 1, or until after the current heating season. While he had problems with the first version of the proposed ordinance, the latest version seems fair, he added. 

“It sounds like we’re trying to be as considerate as possible,” council member Ron Payne said.

In developing the proposed ordinance, an EPA model was used as a guide, according to Broomhall. 

People who already own outdoor wood furnaces also would have to register them with the city.

Most communities ban outdoor wood furnaces entirely, Rose said.

Full Article: CLICK HERE 

February 7, 2013 (OWBs discussed)

 

Noise, outdoor burning ordinances advertised in Shippensburg 

February 07, 2013 6:30 pm  -  Debbie Chestnut, The Sentinel

Shippensburg Borough Council voted Tuesday night to advertise proposed ordinances curbing limits on noise from private property and restricting outdoor burning.

Burning ordinance

The council voted 6-0 to advertise the outdoor burning ordinance allowing the use of chimneys and factory-built novelty stoves, and sets requirements for other types of outdoor burning (such as recreational fires, bonfires, charcoal burners and other open-flame cooking devices). It prohibits burning refuse, rubbish and waste; incinerators; construction burning; and outdoor wood-fired boilers.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

February 4, 2013

 

Last Remedy? Legal Action Taken on Outdoor Wood Boilers

February 04, 2013 By Dan Carpenter  Channel 2 News

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The state has taken legal action to put an end to a couple of outdoor wood boilers near an elementary school in Fairbanks. 

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation says wood smoke from the boilers have created a public nuisance for over four years, and have impacted the health of children and neighbors, near the Woodriver Elementary School.

The DEC's request for a preliminary injunction was filed on January 31st against Andrew and Gloria Straughn, who according to court records operate two wood fired boilers to heat their properties on Palo Verde Avenue and Trinidad Drive. 

Neighbors, parents of wood river students, and faculty members have logged numerous complaints relating to the wood smoke since 2008.

The DEC said this is the first time it has taken this kind of action against residents in Fairbanks - calling the injunction a last remedy in hopes of a permanent fix. 

Residents of the Fairbanks area commonly use fire wood as their primary source of heat during winters, which commonly reach subzero temperatures.

The Fairbanks North Star Borough says the high cost of alternative energy sources is the reason so many people burn wood. In this case, the DEC says the proximity of the boilers to Woodriver Elementary is a major factor in trying to shut down the boilers. 

“Residents really need to consider the proximity of things like schools and hospitals and other people and their neighbors when they decide what kinds of heating devices they use,” said Alice Edwards, the Director of the Division of Air Quality for the DEC.

Repeated calls to the defendants in this case were not returned as of the publication of this article. 

The DEC says it is currently conducting telephone surveys along with the Fairbanks North Star Borough relating to how people are heating their homes. The DEC says the goal is to help develop a plan to address unhealthy air in the borough related to high levels of fine particulates.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

February 3, 2013

 

State seeks to shut down outdoor wood boilers

By: Mary Beth Smetzer  - msmetzer@newsminer.com

Posted: Sunday, February 3, 2013 6:00 am

 

FAIRBANKS — A court order to shut down the two outdoor wood boilers located near Woodriver Elementary School has been requested by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Legal papers filed Thursday in Fairbanks Superior Court ask the court for a preliminary injunction to prohibit further operation of the two outdoor wood boilers owned by Andrew and Gloria Straughn.

Both boilers are on rental properties on Palo Verde Avenue and Trinidad Drive and have been the focus of complaints about wintertime pollution in the area. 

An accompanying memorandum plus 20 affidavits by neighbors; Woodriver teachers, students and staff members; and government officials detail the air pollution and resulting negative health impacts caused from the boilers operation during the past five years.

During that time period, DEC received 187 complaints from 50 people about the air quality in that area. In those complaints, 91 identified one or more of the Straughns’ outdoor wood boilers as the source of the problem.

In the same time frame, the borough’s Air Quality Division received 171 complaints from 42 people. Sixty-two complaints specifically pin-pointed the outdoor boilers as the cause of the pollution.

The civil case, originally filed Jan. 3, is the first lawsuit filed by the state of Alaska against an owner of a polluting home heating device in the Fairbanks area.

The Straughns were issued a nuisance abatement order almost two years ago, March 2011, for operating the boilers in a way that was a nuisance to the neighborhood, which noted them as the main sources of the poor air quality in the area.

Contact staff writer Mary Beth Smetzer at 459-7546.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

February 1, 2013

 

State seeks court order to shut down two outdoor wood boilers next to Woodriver Elementary

By: Dermot Cole

Posted: Friday, February 1, 2013 8:11 am

 

FAIRBANKS - The state Department of Environmental Conservation asked for a court order Thursday to shut down the two outdoor wood boilers that have been the source of numerous air pollution complaints for four-and-a-half years.

The court filing seeks a preliminary injunction to shut down the boilers in the case against Andrew and Gloria Straughn, arguing that the pollution from the boilers has long been a public nuisance. There are 20 affidavits included in the state filing from neighbors, teachers, parents and government officials. 

The action comes almost two years after the state issued a "nuisance abatement order" on March 10, 2011 against the Straughns.

The state says that "when a person conducts operations on his land that emit smoke that bothers the neighborhood, this is a classic public nuisance." 

Over the past five years 50 people have filed a total of 187 complaints about air quality near the school, with 91 of them mentioning one or both boilers used by the Straughns, the state said.

This case illustrates the need for a better state process to deal with complaints so that the period between the report of a nuisance and a response can be cut to days or weeks instead of four-and-a-half years. 

It has been clear for years that outdoor wood boilers do not belong on tiny lots in the city and nearby subdivisions with tiny lots. But that hasn't stopped people from installing them and the borough recently did away with most of its air pollution rules.

The state has been slow to respond and this is the first case to get to this stage. 

The state quotes neighbors who report health problems, such as adult onset asthma and say the smoke from the boilers is harming their quality of life and the neighborhood.

School nurses at Woodriver are quoted as saying that there was a marked increase in the number of students using inhalers and the number of student asthma complaints. 

The current school nurse says there is a "higher rate of bronchial problems and a greater demand for inhalers than she would expect for a student body the size of Woodriver's."

Full Article: CLICK HERE

February 1, 2013 (opinion)

 

Letter: A missed chance to clear the air

To the editor

Published 9:15 pm, Friday, February 1, 2013


I was sorry to see Robert L. Henrickson's letter on the Village of East Nassau's response to an air quality issue. 

Mr. Henrickson implies the village board, most notably myself, had an opportunity to remedy the situation during his tenure as mayor but did not. Mr. Henrickson seems to have a bit of revisionist history on this matter.

As mayor, Mr. Henrickson offered few realistic solutions. In fact, he was opposed to the creation of a specific local law that he determined would be "on behalf of one resident." Contrary to what the former mayor thinks now, the village has taken this matter seriously. The board passed extensive measures with regard to outdoor wood boilers but unfortunately failed to include indoor wood boilers. 

During his tenure, Mr. Henrickson had ample opportunities to act as a mediator in this dispute among neighbors but did not. Instead, he waited until the board collectively acted and passed new regulations on these heating appliances.

What the Lichak family is experiencing is truly a terrible situation. Emissions from wood boilers are something that should be addressed by national and statewide authorities. It is a shame Mr. Henrickson has chosen to point fingers as he has been a great source of local pride in the creation of the Village of East Nassau. 

ADAM M. ACQUARIO

Village trustee/deputy mayor 

East Nassau

Full Article: CLICK HERE

January 2013

January 29, 2013

 

Niles council in favor of ban on outdoor wood boilers

By: Craig Haupert

Published 12:12pm Tuesday, January 29, 2013

 

 

Should Niles residents be allowed to use outdoor wood boilers within the city’s residential areas? 

The consensus from the Niles City Council, speaking on the topic during a committee meeting of the whole Monday evening, was no.

“I can’t understand why anybody would want to have the wood fires because you could actually really kill your neighbors,” said councilman Scott Clark. “The smoke isn’t the problem — the particulate matter is the problem.” 

At issue is a proposed ordinance restricting the use of outdoor wood boilers, also known as exterior wood burning furnaces, in all of the city’s zoning districts except industrial zones.

A first reading of the ordinance also took place during the council’s regular meeting Monday. 

City Administrator Ric Huff said the concern is how smoke from the boilers would affect neighbors in tight-lot spacing in the city.

“If someone puts one of these in the backyard and you live next door and the wind is blowing the right way, the odds are that the smoke from this burner is going to blow right on your house,” Huff said. 

Outdoor wood boilers are typically the size of a large doghouse with a short chimney. The fire box is surrounded by a water jacket that is heated by the fire and pumped into the home to provide heat

Niles Fire Chief Larry Lamb said outdoor wood boilers burn somewhat cool because of the water jacket, creating more particulate matter, which can be hazardous to a person’s health. 

Mayor Michael McCauslin said these boilers are great for rural settings but not for urban settings.

“I don’ think it is this council’s desire — nor would I want any part in — restricting what people can do in their own home,” he said, “but I think we do have an obligation to make neighborhoods safer.”

Councilman Daniel VandenHeede said the city’s utility department is currently using an exterior wood boiler, but the location is in an industrial zone.

Diane Powers, of the city’s building safety division, said there is an outdoor wood boiler on Clay Street, but it’s the only known one in the city’s residential area. Powers said she’s received about 20 inquiries into installing outdoor wood boilers over the past five years. She’s denied each request without pushback.

“I’ve never been challenged on it yet,” she said.

If the ordinance passes, residents already in possession of an outdoor wood boiler would be grandfathered in, Huff said.

The city placed a moratorium on the installation of the units in February 2011.

Violating the ordinance would result in a municipal civil infraction, meaning a possible fine, but no jail time.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

January 28, 2013- OWBs discussed

 

Water, wastewater rates on rise in Niles

January 28, 2013|By LOU MUMFORD | South Bend Tribune

 

NILES -- The increase isn't much but customers of the Niles Utilities Department will soon pay more for water and wastewater.

Also, the panel conducted a first reading of a proposed ordinance that will prohibit outdoor wood boilers in residential and commercial areas but allow them in industrial zones. Such a unit at the city street department garage at 17th and Eagle streets will remain because the location is in an industrial zone. Also, a unit on Clay Street will still be allowed through the grandfather clause.

 

Staff writer Lou Mumford: lmumford@sbtinfo.com

269-687-3551

Full Article: CLICK HERE

January 26, 2013

 

Charlton shed burns down in boiler fire

Saturday, January 26, 2013

TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF

 

CHARLTON - An outdoor boiler in a large shed that also had 20 cords of wood in it caught fire about 8:30 Saturday night at 158 Old Worcester Road. 

No one was hurt, but the building was already a loss when firefighters arrived, according to Assistant Chief Curtis Meskus. He said the shed was approximately 24 feet by 20 feet and estimated the boiler was worth at least $10,000.

The fire did not spread to any other building, and the house on the property has another heat source, he said.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

January 25, 2013

 

Niles might ban outdoor wood boilers

By: Craig Haupert

Published 12:48pm Friday, January 25, 2013   

 

Should Niles residents be allowed to use outdoor wood boilers within the city’s residential areas? 

Niles City Council will be debating this very issue during a special committee of the whole meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday in city council chambers, 1345 E. Main St.

On the agenda is a proposed ordinance restricting the use of outdoor wood boilers, also known as exterior wood burning furnaces, recommended by Niles Fire Chief Larry Lamb and City Administrator Ric Huff. 

Huff said the concern is how smoke from the boilers would affect neighbors in tight-lot spacing in the city.

“If someone puts one of these in the backyard and you live next door and the wind is blowing the right way, the odds are that the smoke from this burner is going to blow right on your house,” Huff said. 

Outdoor wood boilers are typically the size of a large doghouse with a short chimney. The fire box is surrounded by a water jacket that is heated by the fire and pumped into the home to provide heat.

Huff said the boilers are common in the rural areas of upper Michigan where smoke isn’t a concern because houses are generally spaced far apart. 

“There are some studies concerned with the particulate matter that comes out of them and the potential health hazards of that when you are living in close proximity to them,” he said.

Huff said the city has received around eight or nine inquiries from people wanting to put boilers in town over the last two years. He said he knows of one currently within city limits. 

Residents already in possession of an outdoor wood boiler would be grandfathered in, meaning they could still have and use the boiler, Huff said.

The city placed a moratorium on the installation of the units in February 2011. 

Violating the ordinance would result in a municipal civil infraction, meaning a possible fine, but no jail time.

The proposed ordinance would allow for use of the boilers in industrially zone areas.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

January 26, 2013- OWBs in police blotter

 

Burglaries, bad behavior marked criminal court calendar in 2012

Posted: 01/26/2013 01:00:00 AM EST

Saturday January 26, 2013

By: Kenneth Whitcomb, Jr.

Staff Writer

In March, Michael Choquette, 45, of Readsboro, pleaded not guilty to two counts of animal cruelty, one for allegedly killing a woman’s cat with a block of wood then throwing the corpse into an outdoor wood furnace. The other alleged he has poisoned another animal but the court dismissed that charge.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

January 22, 2013 - OWBs discussed

 

Senecas agree to comprehensive street improvements

Published: 01/22/2013

BY: Jill Terreri / News Staff Reporter

 

The Seneca Gaming Corp. has agreed to make street and sidewalk improvements around the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino, and the Common Council on Tuesday agreed to allow the improvements to move ahead.

In other action Tuesday:

The lack of city regulations regarding existing outdoor wood boilers will be discussed at the Legislation Committee meeting Tuesday, at the request of a block club.

Full Article: CLICK HERE 

January 21, 2013 (video)

Wood stove may be to blame for Orange fire

Updated: Monday, 21 Jan 2013, 6:46 PM EST

Published : Monday, 21 Jan 2013, 6:44 PM EST 

By: Keith Kountz

 

ORANGE, Conn. (WTNH) -- With temperatures expected to dip into the single digits in some areas this week, staying warm will be a major priority. In Orange, investigators say an outdoor wood stove may be to blame for an overnight house fire.

Firefighters made quick work, knocking down the flames at a home on Hawthorne Lane overnight. 

By daybreak, the damage was clear, the outside of a chimney charred, windows boarded up and green plastic covering the front and side of the house.

However, the family who lived there, two adults and three children all made it out, and neighbors are ready to help them in any way possible. 

"There will be such an outpouring here that it will just be incredible as far as the community coming together to help," said neighbor Judy Williams.

Although the Fire Chief in Orange won't confirm or deny it, the local Fire Marshal tells the New Haven Register that the blaze is connected to an outdoor wood burning furnace. 

They are common sight in many local communities. 

"A lot of people have resorted to that as a way of saving some money and things as far as the oil burning furnaces and things a lot of people have started to set up their own wood burning furnaces outside and they are all regulated," said Williams.

Still some have raised concerns with DEEP about the potential health effects that could result from the smoke emitted from the furnaces. 

Although we still don't have any definitive word on what caused the fire, neighbors are grateful that a family they call very well-known and well-liked made it out safely.

"Thank God, everybody was alerted and got them out," said Williams, "and now we can always fix a house that's for sure."

Fire investigators say they expect to announce the exact cause of the fire on Hawthorne Lane at some point Tuesday.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

January 21, 2013

 

Orange house fire began in outdoor wood-burning furnace

Published: Monday, January 21, 2013 

By Register Staff

ORANGE — A fire that heavily damaged a house on Hawthorne Lane started outside in connection with a wood-burning furnace, but officials do not know yet exactly what went wrong, Fire Marshal Tim Smith said Monday. 

The fire, still under investigation,  was spotted running up the side of the house by a person inside who alerted other family members, Smith said, adding all four inhabitants got out safely.

The fire call came in after midnight and the blaze was under control in 20 to 30 minutes with mutual aid from Woodbridge, Smith said.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

January 18, 2013- OWBs discussed

 

The dirty truth about soot

By: Robert Miller

Friday, January 18, 2013

 If you've ever been stuck behind a black-smoke-belching truck on the highway, or seen the thick haze an outdoor wood furnace can lay across the landscape, you sort of know instinctively that this stuff stinks.

Now we're learning it's bad globally. 

An international team of researchers has found that soot -- aka black carbon -- does more to contribute to global warming than anything other than carbon dioxide.

"It's a really important study," said Nancy Alderman, president of Environment and Human Health Inc., a Connecticut-based advocacy group. 

That's because there are direct, obvious ways to reduce soot in the air, even in Connecticut.

Internationally, soot pours from the small, inefficient stoves and open fires many people in poor countries use for cooking. It also rises in black clouds from forests where people burn wood to clear land. 

That's far away. On the home scene, there are the rank emissions that belch out of diesel engines. If you can retrofit those engines, or get equipment with cleaner-burning engines, you can get rid of a lot of soot.

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has been on this case for years. 

"We've been looking at this as a health problem," said Anne Gobin, director of the DEEP's air management bureau.

That's because the particulates in soot are tiny. They're able to go deep into the lungs and do serious damage there, Gobin said. 

In the last five years, the DEEP has spent about $7 million in federal, state and private donations to get cleaner diesel engines in the environment.

The money has been used to retrofit the diesel engines on school buses and on the ferries that carry people across the Long Island Sound. It's been used to clean up the diesel engines used on construction jobs. 

There's another source of black carbon the General Assembly could address, and so far it has walked away from the problem. It should require that people installing an outdoor wood furnace for their homes use the cleanest technology available.

Environment and Human Health Inc. has campaigned for such regulations, but to no avail. 

The new study on soot and global warming, Alderman said, gives her group another good line of argument: The fumes from outdoor wood furnaces are bad for your neighborhood. They can cause asthma and worse. But they're also bad for the planet as a whole.

Soot is different from other global warming gases in another important way. 

Alderman pointed out that when CO2 and methane get into the atmosphere, it can take decades before they dissipate.

Soot only stays aloft for about a week. 

"You get environmental relief and health relief as well," Alderman said. "The CO2 we're admitting now will still be around in 2063. This we can change quickly."

bmiller@newstimes.com; 203-731-3345

Full Article: CLICK HERE

January 17, 2013

 

Shippensburg Borough Council discusses burning ordinance

January 17, 2013 9:00 pm 

By Debbie Chestnut, The Sentinel 

Plans to advertise an outdoor burning ordinance were put on hold Tuesday night as Shippensburg Borough Council members decided to make a few changes and review the proposed ordinance again at its next meeting.

Opposition centered on the times (between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.) that chimneys and factory-built novelty stoves could not be used. Other types of outdoor burning (such as recreational fires, bonfires, charcoal burners and other open-flame cooking devices) have no time restrictions, although permits are required and event times are recorded on permit applications. 

Permits are not required for chimneys and factory-built novelty stoves but, like all fires covered in the ordinance, must be supervised.

“I would strike the times,” said councilman Steve Brenize. “The property owner or an adult has to be present (according to the ordinance) ... I don’t see a difference if it’s midnight or one o’clock in the afternoon.” 

Vice president Kathy Coy said smoke could be more of a problem in areas where homes are in “close quarters,” and councilman Joe Hockersmith pointed out that the borough’s noise ordinance goes into effect at 10 p.m. Council members also discussed a part of the ordinance dealing with smoke after dusk.

“My biggest concern is what they are doing with the ashes afterward,” said Borough Fire Chief Randy O’Donnell. 

The ordinance prohibits burning refuse, rubbish and waste; incinerators; construction burning; and outdoor wood-fired boilers.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

January 12, 2013

 

Where there's dense smoke there's ire

Chris Churchill, The Advocate

Published 8:08 pm, Saturday, January 12, 2013

 

EAST NASSAU — I don't like writing about lasting fights between neighbors. That's partly because I would hate to live that way, to have neighborly cooperation replaced by anger and acrimony. 

You might not expect such disputes in the Rensselaer County village of East Nassau, where just 600 people are spread across five square miles of mostly wooded land. Most houses are too far apart for fighting.

But John and Bonnie Lichak have been involved in a years-long dispute with their nearest neighbor, whose wood boiler sometimes bathes their house and yard in dense smoke.

The emissions were so bad that the state Department of Environmental Conservation took action in 2010, demanding that the Lichaks' neighbor stop using his outdoor wood boiler. And he did. 

But that didn't solve the dispute, because the neighbor, Gerald Landrigan, simply replaced his outdoor wood boiler with one that's inside his home.

The Lichaks say the new unit produces just as much smoke. Yet the DEC has refused to intercede, saying it doesn't regulate indoor units. 

That, folks, is what we call a loophole.

"What does the location of the boiler have to do with it?" asked Bonnie Lichak, who works for the state. "Isn't it the emissions that you're really going after?" 

Those are good questions. And make no mistake — wood boilers produce significant pollution and are far dirtier than traditional wood stoves.

In fact, a 2005 report by then Attorney General Eliot Spitzer found that outdoor wood boilers produce as much fine particulate matter pollution an hour as two diesel trucks, 45 passenger cars or 1,800 gas furnaces. 

And that pollution is linked to lung and heart problems and increased cancer risks, the report says.

Nevertheless, indoor and outdoor wood boilers are increasingly popular in rural New York, as people seek an alternative to high oil and propane costs. The boilers, which heat water that's then used to warm a house, were rare as recently as 20 years ago, but are now easy to spot along rural roads. 

The boilers can be particularly contentious, because some homeowners use them year round to heat water. That can result in smoke drifting through summer's open windows.

But if homes are far enough apart, the smoke usually dissipates without bothering neighbors. 

The Lichaks' house is only about 100 feet from Landrigan's smokestack. What's worse, the geography of their yard causes the smoke to settle around their home, its escape blocked by trees and a hill.

"What they're going through is a difficult situation, and I wouldn't want anyone to go through it," said Adam Acquario, the deputy mayor of East Nassau. 

Acquario and other lawmakers have asked the DEC to help the Lichaks. The village, he said, doesn't have the resources to tackle pollution complaints.

"I just know I wouldn't want to live there," Acquario said. 

The Lichaks make it clear that they're not against the burning of wood. They even have a wood stove of their own. But wood boilers, they say, are an entirely different animal.

You won't be surprised that Landrigan, the neighbor, has a different view of the situation. He angrily denounced the Lichaks as meddlesome newcomers to rural life who won't be satisfied no matter what he does. 

"They're just criers," Landrigan told me. "They should let me live my life."

I guess the Lichaks won't be borrowing a cup of sugar from Landrigan anytime soon — or vice versa. 

Landrigan said the DEC enforcement has already cost him $3,000 for the replacement boiler, which he relies on, he said, because it's the only way he can affordably heat his house.

No doubt, the DEC faces a difficult balance with wood-boiler regulation. Cleaner air is a wonderful goal, but the state must weigh that against the need of families to heat their homes. Regulations fall hardest on poorer residents unable to afford other heating methods. 

But that doesn't explain why the state would treat outdoor boilers differently from indoor versions of the same technology. Even Landrigan said that doesn't make sense.

"They should allow me to burn indoors or outdoors," he said. "It doesn't make any difference." 

In response to my questions, the DEC would only provide a letter from Joe Martens, its commissioner, to U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who had inquired about the Lichaks' situation.

The letter points out that state statute explicitly addresses the use of outdoor wood boilers, but contains nothing that specifically mentions their indoor versions. 

Martens does concede the existence of a general state law banning air emissions that "unreasonably interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property" — a rule that seems to apply to the Lichaks, who have photos and videos showing their daughter's backyard playground engulfed in smoke.

But Martens said the 1971 law, adopted long before the popularity of wood boilers, has rarely been applied to indoor home heating units. Plus, he said, the DEC faces additional constraints with indoor devices, "including constitutional constraints on unreasonable searches and seizures." 

That leaves the Lichaks smoldering in frustration. They've taken steps to seal their home, but still feel they're inhaling dangerous levels of smoke.

"You can't smoke a cigarette on a playground," Bonnie Lichak said. "But our yard can be completely enveloped in smoke, and nobody can do anything."

Full Article: CLICK HERE

January 10, 2013 (radio audio story)

 

Alaska DEC Suing Operators Of Outdoor Wood-Powered Boilers In Fairbanks

By Dan Bross, KUAC - Fairbanks | January 10, 2013 - 5:53 pm

 

Pollution from two outdoor wood boilers in Fairbanks has resulted in the state filing suit against the operators. 

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation is suing Andrew and Gloria Straughn to halt operation of the boilers at rental properties they own in a neighborhood near Woodriver Elementary School. The suit cites 180 complaints to the state from 50 different people since 2008.

DEC air quality program director Alice Edwards says the state has long tried to work with the Straughns to address the problem. 

“The Straughns have tried a number of things two, three years to try and reduce those emissions,” Edwards said. “The extended the stacks of those units in 2009; and in 2010 and ’11, they worked with trying to retrofit those units with catalysts, but those actions haven’t been successful in reducing the smoke to an acceptable level, and the complaints continued.”

Edwards says legal action was the next step to try to force compliance. The state is seeking to stop the boilers, which it says have caused health problems for people in the Woodriver neighborhood, including elementary school kids. It’s also seeking reimbursement for investigating the case, and bringing the lawsuit. 

The Straughns did not return calls for comment.

A case against another Fairbanks outdoor boiler operator is possible. The state is compiling complaints against Larry Gilbert, who operates a boiler at a property off the Steese Highway and Farmers Loop extension. He was also issued a nuisance abatement order in 2011.

Full Article & Audio: CLICK HERE 

January 9, 2013

 

Woodriver lawsuit shows some of flaws in state air pollution regulations 

By Dermot Cole

Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 8:33 am

 

The problem with outdoor wood boilers in the Woodriver Elmentary School neighborhood is the same as in other parts of Fairbanks where there are tiny lots—it makes no sense to allow outdoor wood boilers in heavily populated areas. 

To limit the conflicts, there should be minimum lot sizes, rules requiring setbacks from lot lines and rules requiring that the chimney stacks be high enough so that pollution is not deposited at ground level.

All of these requirements are missing because the borough has no authority to regulate pollution from coal and wood stoves and the state has inadequate regulations. 

The borough has no authority in this matter because of the proposition championed by Rep. Tammie Wilson and others that was approved by the voters last fall: "The borough shall not, in any way, regulate, prohibit, curtail, nor issue fines or fees associated with, the sale, distribution, or operation of heating appliances or any type of combustible fuel."

Wilson, who argued in 2010 that government had no right to regulate home heating, calling any such effort "government at its worst," later took the position that the state, not the borough,should regulate air pollution questions. 

The lawsuit filed by the state last week over the outdoor wood boilers near Woodriver Elementary School illustrates that the state process is flawed. If there is a nuisance that began years ago, as the state claims, it should not have taken this long to act. There are other outdoor wood boilers that are creating neighborhood nuisances, but the state has failed to take court action against those owners.

Until this lawsuit the state's clean air action have been limited to a couple of nastygrams. The complaint could signal a change in direction or it could be an action taken mainly in response to the continual complaints from teachers and parents from Woodriver. 

With the borough prohibited from regulating air pollution, the state has to end its hands-off approach and develop effective responses.

The state regulatory process should be overhauled and the state regulations need to be rewritten. Lot sizes, setbacks and stack heights need to be included.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

January 9, 2013

 

State files lawsuit against Fairbanks wood boiler owners

Matt Buxton/mbuxton@newsminer.com | Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 12:00 am

 

FAIRBANKS — The state of Alaska filed its first lawsuit against the owners of two outdoor hydronic wood boilers last week, an unprecedented step in the ongoing battle to clean up Fairbanks’ wintertime air. 

The civil case, filed in court Jan. 3, seeks to shut down two outdoor wood boilers near Woodriver Elementary School that the state claims violate public nuisance laws by blanketing the West Fairbanks neighborhood with wood smoke.

The two boilers are located at rental properties on Palo Verde Avenue and Trinidad Drive that are owned by Andrew and Gloria Straughn, who are named as defendants in the case. 

The civil action cites nearly 200 complaints filed with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation by neighbors, Woodriver employees and parents of Woodriver students since the boilers were installed in 2008.

“The OWBs at both of the properties owned by the defendants have, at times, emitted smoke that has impacted the health of some neighbors and has unreasonably interfered with the neighbors’ enjoyment of life and property,” the complaint states. 

A message left with the Straughns was not returned by press time.

The two wood boilers have been the focus of long-running efforts to clean up the local air and have come to represent the wider problem of Fairbanks’ wintertime air pollution. 

This winter, Woodriver staff began a concerted effort to file complaints with the state. Dawn Brashear, a counselor and PTA member at Woodriver Elementary School, said the group has filed more than a dozen complaints this year with the intention that each one represents every student and staff member affected by the smoke.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has set a 2014 deadline for the borough to clean up its wintertime air pollution. The state is working on a plan to prove it is capable of meeting that deadline. 

Voters in October passed a measure that bars the Fairbanks North Star Borough from enforcing regulations on air pollution from home heating devices. Supporters of the measure said it is up to the state to get involved. 

The lawsuit is the first time the state has filed a court complaint against an owner of a polluting home heating device in the Fairbanks area. The state has sent a handful of nuisance abatement orders in the past few years, including one to the Straughns on March 10, 2011. The complaint states the Straughns continued to operate the boilers in a way that was a nuisance to the neighborhood.

In addition to seeking to shut down the boilers, state statutes allow it to seek monetary penalties between $500 and $100,000 for the initial violation and up to a maximum of $10,000 per day after the violation. 

The lawsuit has been received positively by the Woodriver community, Brashear said.

“Yes, the state is doing something, but I was hoping that they would have done something in 2008,” she said. “Why has that not been enforced until four years later? But I am pleased that there is movement to justice and enforcement of the law.” 

State officials did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

Contact staff writer Matt Buxton at 459-7544.

Full Article: CLICK HERE

January 9, 2013

State sues Fairbanks owners of 2 outdoor wood boilers, claiming smoke produced is a nuisance

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS 

January 09, 2013 - 2:39 pm EST

 

FAIRBANKS, Alaska — Two outdoor wood-burning boilers in Fairbanks are the target of a state lawsuit that claims they're a public nuisance contributing to winter air pollution problems.

The lawsuit seeks to shut down water-circulating boilers owned by Andrew and Gloria Straughn on rental properties near Woodriver Elementary School.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (see above article)reports it's the first time the state has sued the owner of a polluting home heating device in the Fairbanks area. Officials previously have issued nuisance abatement orders, including one to the Straughns on March 10.

A message seeking comment from the Straughns was not returned.

Particulate in Fairbanks air, a problem made worse by wood stoves, has made the Fairbanks North Star Borough come under the review of the federal Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA has set a 2014 deadline for the borough to clean up winter air or face sanctions such as the loss of federal highway construction money.

The young, the elderly and people with weak immune systems are vulnerable to accelerated health problems because of particulate.

The use of wood as a fuel has jumped in one of the coldest U.S. communities, where temperatures reach 40 below zero every winter, as the cost of home heating fuel has increased. Fairbanks does not have access to natural gas.

The outdoor boilers named in the lawsuit were installed in 2008. State officials filed the court complaint Jan. 3 and cited nearly 200 complaints filed with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation by neighbors, Woodriver Elementary employees and parents of students.

"The (outdoor wood-burning boilers) at both of the properties owned by the defendants have, at times, emitted smoke that has impacted the health of some neighbors and has unreasonably interfered with the neighbors' enjoyment of life and property," the complaint said.

Woodriver Elementary staff members urged people this year to file complaints. The lawsuit has been received positively, she said.

"Yes, the state is doing something, but I was hoping that they would have done something in 2008," she said. "Why has that not been enforced until four years later? But I am pleased that there is movement to justice and enforcement of the law."

The borough itself is limited in its possible response.

Voters in October passed a measure that bars the borough from enforcing regulations on air pollution from home heating devices.

___

Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com

Full Article: CLICK HERE

 

January 9, 2013

State sues Fairbanks wood-burners

By: Associated Press

The state of Alaska is suing owners of two Fairbanks outdoor wood boilers, claiming they're violating public nuisance laws. 

The lawsuit filed last week targets hydronic wood boilers near Woodriver Elementary School on rental properties owned by Andrew and Gloria Straughn.

A message left with the Straughns was not returned. 

The lawsuit says the boilers are contributing to smoke problems on the west side of the community.

The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner (http://bit.ly/ZHPZt0) reports the lawsuit cites nearly 200 complaints filed with the Department of Environmental Conservation by neighbors plus parents and staff from the elementary school. 

Ongoing problems with particulate in Fairbanks air, a problem made worse by wood stoves, have made the Fairbanks North Star Borough come under review by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

Full Article: CLICK HERE