Outdoor furnace rules scrutinized

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COLUMBUS — In response to a growing demand for outdoor wood-fired boilers and increasing complaints from neighbors who live near them, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has drafted rules to ensure that these boilers are operated in a way that minimizes smoky particle emissions.

Public comments

Public comments are encouraged through March 7 on the draft rules.

Outdoor wood-fired boilers are residential furnaces designed to heat an entire home and in many cases, replace multiple indoor wood stoves. They are bulk-loaded with wood that is burned; the resulting heat is transferred through a firebox surface to a surrounding water reservoir.

The water is then piped through rooms for heat.

The amount of usable heat depends on the quantity of wood burned. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is relying on state and local regulation and voluntary measures to control these boiler emissions.

The agency’s draft rules would apply to manufacturers, suppliers, distributors or others intending to sell, lease, distribute or market an outdoor wood-fired boiler, and those who install, operate or own them.

Operating requirements

The new draft rules would set up operating requirements that include acceptable fuels to be burned, boiler performance standards and use requirements.

Fuels allowed would include clean wood, wood pellets from clean wood, home-heating oil in compliance with sulfur content limits, natural gas used as a starter, or any clean-burning fuel with emissions lower than those created from burning seasoned firewood.

Fuels excluded would include burned garbage, tires, yard waste, material containing rubber or plastic, waste petroleum products, coal, construction and demolition debris material, particle board, animal waste and asphalt products.

Use would be acceptable only from Sept. 13 until April 15 for all outdoor wood-fired boilers unless a unit could be certified to meet the required emissions limits.

For new outdoor wood boilers, the draft rule would set end dates for when a new outdoor wood-fired boiler could be distributed, sold, leased, marketed, installed, operated, or owned in Ohio, unless the unit is certified to meet the emissions standards.

New units also would have to: meet limits for heat input calculated for residential and commercial-sized wood-fired boilers; be placed at least 200 feet from the closest property line; and have a permanent stack at least 5 feet higher than the peak of any roof within 150 feet of the boiler.

For existing outdoor wood boilers, the same requirements for stack height would apply starting 60 days after the rule becomes effective.

Additional requirements would apply based on whether existing units are located in a restricted or unrestricted area.

Restricted areas

In restricted areas (generally inside cities and villages):

  • If an outdoor wood-fired boiler did not meet the rule’s emissions requirements, it would be required to meet the setback requirements in the draft rule or be removed or made inoperable by July 1, 2010.
  • By July 1, 2015, all outdoor wood-fired boilers would need to meet the emissions standard, regardless of setback distance.
  • When property is sold or transferred, existing or installed units would need to meet emissions requirements on or after July 1, 2010, or be removed.
  • In unrestricted areas (generally outside cities and villages):

  • If a unit does not meet the emissions standards and doesn’t meet the setback requirements, it would be required to be removed or made inoperable by July 1, 2015.
  • Manufacturers of outdoor wood-fired boilers would be required to provide information about Ohio’s rules on the labels they put on products sold in Ohio.

    Temporary labels would be required on units that also would include the draft rule information.

    All units sold or leased in Ohio would need to include an owner’s manual describing proper operating procedures to reduce particle emissions.

    In addition, suppliers would be required to provide buyers with a notice describing restrictions associated with operation of an outdoor wood-fired boiler.

    Copies

    Copies of the draft rules are available from Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s Division of Air Pollution Control, and can be requested by calling Carolina Prado at 614-644-2310.

    Written comments can be mailed to the Division of Air Pollution Control, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, OH 43216-1049.

    All comments must be received by March 7. Ohio Environmental Protection Agency will consider all comments before it formally proposes the rule changes.

    When the rules are formally proposed, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency will hold a public hearing and offer another public comment period before any rules are adopted.

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