Adirondack Daily Enterprise: Outdoor wood boiler rules partly delayed

Environmental, health groups demand tougher stance by DEC

April 16, 2011

By staff , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

ALBANY - The state Department of Environmental Conservation is giving outdoor wood boiler dealers more time to sell OWBs that don't meet the state's new emission standards - a decision that drew almost immediate criticism from health advocates and environmental groups.

DEC officials announced Friday the adoption of an emergency rule that allows outdoor wood boiler distributors to sell non-certified models for another 90 days, through July 14, provided those models were in stock as of Thursday.

Other than units already in stock, distributors may no longer sell any OWBs that are not certified by DEC as meeting its new emission standards for outdoor wood boilers, which were adopted in December of last year and took effect Jan. 28.

But the American Lung Association in New York and Environmental Advocates of New York say the "emergency rule" will likely result in more New Yorkers being sent to the emergency room. In a joint statement, the groups said they "continue to receive numerous complaints from New Yorkers who live in proximity to wood boilers and are forced to breathe in the toxic air they emit.

"This delay in cleaning up the state's air will likely result in more New Yorkers suffering asthma attacks and other cardiovascular episodes," the statement reads. "When DEC promulgated this rule, industry was put on notice and given ample time to ensure that the boilers they were selling met the new emissions standards. It's wrong to knowingly allow the sale of boilers that do not meet the standards when the technology is out there and readily available."

While the DEC is giving dealers more time to sell off their non-compliant boilers, other parts of the OWB regulation are still in effect. They include stack height requirements for new boilers that are intended to lessen the impact of emission plumes on neighboring property owners. A residential-size new outdoor wood boiler must now have a permanent stack extending a minimum of 18 feet above ground level.

New units with thermal output ratings less than 250,000 Btus per hour are required to be set back a minimum of 100 feet from neighboring properties. OWBs with ratings greater than 250,000 Btus per hour have to be set back at least 200 feet from the nearest property line, 300 feet from a residentially zoned property and 1,000 feet from a school. There are different standards for OWBs in agricultural areas.

Both new and existing units are subject to fuel restrictions that require owners to use seasoned and clean wood as opposed to garbage and other debris.