Archive for the ‘Highly Polluting Appliances’ Category

Recent FNSB releases of public records disclose 1,034 complaints since 2008.

Cruel air pollution this winter:

COAL: “Someone in our neighborhood is burning coal I believe, it’s a horrible smell coming into our home causing everyone to have headaches. I also have premature twin infants and do not want this to affect their health. We have air purifiers going in our house but the smell is very strong. Thank you.”

COFFEE: “This company has piped burnt coffee pollution in the air for over 2 years. The burning particulates get in your eyes and lungs. My 75 year old mother is constantly sick from the odor. She has lived in her home for 57 years and has respiratory illness from it. The pollution is so prevalent that you can breathe it up to 6 or 7 miles from the company. Many families complain to the state and the borough to no avail. The owners live far from their burning odors and are not responsive to the calls complaining about this pollution. It is not just an odor it is making my mother sick. Please respond. When the weather is very cold the inversion layer keeps the pollution locked in the greater Fairbanks City area. Please respond. Thank You.”[Previous to filing this complaint, complainant had contacted the state and was advised by ADEC to complain to FNSB. When complainant did so, FNSB “assigned” case to ADEC, saying “Odor violates State Regulation 18 AAC 50.110.” Is it air pollution or a hot potato?]

WOOD BOILER: “This outdoor hydronic heater is used to heat the greenhouse where the owner grows flowers for sale. He told me 2 years ago that his neighbor has complained to him but nobody else. He is some 500 feet from Ticasuk Brown School. I took this photo yesterday as I drove around my neighborhood looking for contributors to my terrible air quality. The smell from his burner took my breath away.”[FNSB measured 2,126 µg/m3, highest ever recorded.]

TRASH: “Neighbor burns trash every Tuesday between 3-6pm, has been going on all summer but now trying to shovel and has asthma and smoke has become unbearable. Not sure which neighbor.”

COAL AND WOOD: “I was right at the corner of the Steese Hywy South of Curry’s Corner and the Post Office. My eyes burned, by skin was irritated and I had some labored breathing after being down there. I wear a mask to pick up my mail now. I know it’s not healthy to be down there and the postal employees should be interviewed because they have made serious comments. I don’t feel comfortable commenting for them but someone should ask them.”

VEGETABLE OIL: “This has been an ongoing issue, the fumes are noxious and potentially dangerous.It smells like chemicals, or wires burning…. Sometimes accompanied by dark smoke coming out of a pipe protruding from the front of the “shop.” Can you please look into this issue?”

COFFEE: “Putrid, disgusting odor of burnt rubber or other material having been cooked to the point of being scorched being pervasive in the windless, downtown area this morning when I was there in and out of my vehicle, between 8:30 am and 10:30 am in the area of Gaffney Rd. and as I was going toward the downtown post office and then along the Chena River on First Avenue toward the Carlson Center….”

UNKNOWN: “We are regularly, subjected to a very strong odor of burning material, I think it is coal smoke. The odor is so strong that it is present inside our office building when all doors and windows are closed. It causes irritation of the nose and eyes.”

WOOD BOILER: “There is an outdoor boiler located behind this residence. It is can be accessed off of Skyline. It is the first driveway on the left after the Skyline/Summit Intersection. The property owner has been harvesting green wood from the front of his property. When the outdoor boiler is fired the smell and smoke covers the neighborhood. He does not seem to run it consistently, but when it is burning the pollution levels are high. We moved specifically into this area of town to avoid the air pollution problems of the valley. This boiler has been installed since our move 5 years ago. We have great health and welfare concerns. This area has an extensive network of trails and is an area used by runners, bikers, and skiers. Last week we were on an early morning walk and the smoke was so thick and dense that we could hardly breathe. This boiler has introduced a hazard to the health and well being of all the residents in the entire area. We would appreciate your investigation into this situation and your advice on what recourse we have as concerned neighbors. You will note that I did not put an event end, as it is ongoing whenever the boiler is fired.”

WOOD BOILER: “In order to make this air quality complaint actually go through I just filled in the start date and time [ongoing pollution]. The people being affected are in the Volunteer Fire Fighter Residence behind the Fox Transfer Site. The smoke has been bad, sometimes it’s worse than other times. I am a young person who has started to have cardiac symptoms. An EKG suggested that I was experiencing repolarization of my heart conductivity. That is a bad thing to be happening and not what should happen to a young, otherwise healthy person. I have had a work smoke exposure the summer of 2015 and now have been living in this smoke during the winter of 2015-16. I will try to find another place to live. Please investigate this area. We will also attempt to find help monitoring.”

COAL: “The house 2 doors down to the right of me has excessive coal smoke blowing thru our front yard causing headaches and nausea whenever I open the front door. I have a young son who cannot play outside.”

Ongoing, “putrid” air pollution:

FNSB air quality complaint records undercount concerns about air pollution. Many complaints are for air pollution that has gone on for years. Complainants may have given up due to lack of agency response. Individuals may be injured by air pollution, yet never file a complaint.

In 2015, FNSB terminated its online complaint form, diverting all complaints to ADEC’s statewide air quality complaint webform: https://dec.alaska.gov/Applications/Air/airtoolsweb/Complaints

Some complainants identified the air pollution source by address; many do not or cannot. Complainants described conditions that make source identification difficult: darkness, infiltration into homes, workplaces, or schools, and all-pervasive ambient air conditions.

Complainants were often referred to ADEC, that with one exception (Alaska v. Straughn) has taken no enforcement action. Many received no follow-up communication. ADEC passed a problem burner to FNSB who “assigned” it back to ADEC like a hot potato. Complaints have been assumed to be “personal” conflicts until multiple individuals complained about a single source address.

Complainants frequently were about smoke from wood stoves, hydronic heaters (boilers), and coal. Complaints were about North Pole Coffee Roasting Co. (1502 Minnie St, Fairbanks), Justa Store (446 Old Chena Pump Rd, Fairbanks), and Labrenz Landscaping Inc. (2759 College Rd, Fairbanks).

Complaints were from inside the Fairbanks PM2.5 nonattainment area and outside, including Moose Creek (a mile outside nonattainment boundary), Harding Lake area, and Chena Hot Springs Road corridor.

Complaints occurred at all times of year, not only in winter months.


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Indiana homeowners can receive up to 100% funding to replace their old outdoor wood boilers (OWBs) with new solar, geothermal, or geothermal/solar combination systems, swapping out neighborhood scourges for zero-emission, renewable solutions.

The “It’s Doable, Go Renewable” program is overseen by the Hoosier Environmental Council, administered by the American Lung Association of the Upper Midwest, and supported by the Environmental Law & Policy Center, Citizens Action Coalition, Indiana Wildlife Federation, and Sierra Club.

There are around 8,000 Outdoor Wood Boilers throughout Indiana. When these devices are poorly constructed or operated, OWBs can make it very difficult for people to breathe who live downwind from them. We’re thrilled by a $500,000 grant opportunity that will allow for the replacement of the dirtiest soot-producing OWBs with clean, renewable energy. Everyone benefits here: the OWB owner gets a brand-new, clean source of energy. Neighbors no longer suffer from OWB smoke. And we help support Hoosier homegrown solar & geothermal entrepreneurs. — Jesse Kharbanda, Executive Director of the Hoosier Environmental Council

Factsheet: What’s The Deal With Outdoor Wood Boilers?

The program application period runs from October 14, 2015 to December 31, 2015. Eligible applicants must meet the following criteria:

  1. Homeowners with an Indiana address.
  2. Currently operate an OWB to meet their home heating needs.
  3. Willing to replace their OWB with a zero-emission solar photovoltaic, geothermal, or combination system.

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Burning Alaska coal in coal stoves, furnaces, and boilers is highly polluting and likely violates device manufacturer warranty.

“A bit of research revealed that many coal stoves currently in use and available for sale in Alaska are not designed nor certified for low quality coal such as Usibelli’s. Many of the most popular indoor coal stoves available here were manufactured back east and were designed and certified for use with their low-moisture, high heating-value anthracite coal. Burning inferior coal in a stove designed and certified for anthracite even once invalidates any warranty and could compromise any insurance claim involving damages caused by misuse.” Russ Maddox, Alaska Dispatch, 11/5/2013 Alaska’s inferior coal should never be called ‘clean’

Read the “bit of research” here: CAF Report: Alaska Heating Coal may Violate Manufacturer Fuel Use Requirements

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation is proposing to approve “coal” and “coal pellets” for coal heaters in the Fairbanks PM2.5 nonattainment area regardless of manufacturer warranty or UL certification. The report recommends steps to address the statewide safety risks from burning high-moisture Alaska coal in heating devices.

Related coverage:

Burn the right fuel correctly Seward City News 10/28/2013

State urges caution with wood, coal stoves FDNM 10/26/2013

Heating with Alternative Fuels Can Be Dangerous Media Release, Alaska Fire Marshal 10/25/2013

Residents Raise Coal Burning Concerns Seward City News 9/17/2013

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Clean Air Fairbanks today released a new report:

CAF - Alaska Heating Coal may Violate Manufacturer Fuel Use Requirements

Alaska Heating Coal may Violate Manufacturer Fuel Use Requirements: Safety Risks from Burning High-moisture Alaska Coal

>>Link to PDF here

Summary: Coal stoves are typically designed for coal types not available in Alaska. The moisture content of Alaska coal is high relative to other types of coal. High-moisture coal burns with higher emissions and carries a far higher risk of explosions, chimney fires, and structure fires.

“Improper use and the failure to follow manufacturer guidelines can result in a disaster for the occupants of the home,” states a recent warning from the Division of Fire and Life Safety of the Alaska Department of Public Safety. “Only use a grade of coal that is recommended by the manufacturer of your heating equipment and do not put coal in a heating device that is not recommended to burn coal. Make sure that your wood or coal burning stove has been tested and approved by a third party testing laboratory such as UL.”

UL certification of heating devices is limited to fuels approved by the manufacturer. To load a stove with improper fuel‒even just one time‒voids the warranty and UL certification. UL certification is in the fine print of insurance policies, mortgage agreements, leases, and other contracts pertaining to property and liabilities.

However, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation has proposed to approve “coal” and “coal pellets” for coal heaters in the Fairbanks PM2.5 nonattainment area.

The report offers recommendations to address the statewide safety risks from burning high-moisture Alaska coal in heating devices.

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For Immediate Release:

Timothy D. Ballo, Earthjustice, tballo@earthjustice.org  202-667-4500
Gregg Tubbs, American Lung Association, Gregg.Tubbs@Lung.org  202-715-3469
Sharyn Stein, Environmental Defense Fund, sstein@edf.org  202-572-3396
David Presley, Clean Air Council, dpresley@cleanair.org  215-567-4004 ext. 122
Nancy Alderman, Environment and Human Health, Inc., nancy.alderman@ehhi.org   203-248-6582

Health and Environmental Groups Challenge EPA over 17-year Failure to Update Clean Air Standards for New Wood Boilers and Furnaces

Groups Seek Clean Air Solutions to Protect Health of Communities and Families from Dangerous Soot

Washington, DC (October 9, 2013) – Today, 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 woodsmoke. 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.

The American Lung Association, Environmental Defense Fund, Clean Air Council, and Environment and Human Health, Inc., represented by Earthjustice, filed a lawsuit over 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 today 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 today were the states of New York, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.

Links to PDF of legal filings submitted today:
Groups’ complaint PDF
States’ complaint PDF 

“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.”

When 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 EPA to review emissions standards for health harming sources of air pollution every 8 years. Under the law, 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 would cleaner units. 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.

“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.”

“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.”


Related posts:
States, Groups Demand EPA Update Outdated Residential Wood Heater Standards
Tell EPA to Close the Hydronic Heater Loophole

American Lung Association
Now in its second century, the American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. With your generous support, the American Lung Association is “Fighting for Air” through research, education and advocacy. For more information about the American Lung Association, a holder of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Guide Seal, or to support the work it does, call 1-800-LUNG-USA (1-800-586-4872) or visit www.lung.org.

Clean Air Council
Clean Air Council is a non-profit environmental organization that has fought to improve the air quality across the Mid-Atlantic for more than 40 years. The Council has over 7,000 members across the region. The Council’s mission is to protect everyone’s right to breathe clean air. www.cleanair.org

Earthjustice is a non-profit public interest law organization dedicated to protecting the magnificent places, natural resources, and wildlife of this earth, and to defending the right of all people to a healthy environment.  earthjustice.org

Environmental Defense Fund
Environmental Defense Fund (edf.org), a leading national nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems. EDF links science, economics, law and innovative private-sector partnerships. See twitter.com/EnvDefenseFund; facebook.com/EnvDefenseFund

Environment and Human Health, Inc.
Environment and Human Health, Inc. (EHHI), is a non-profit organization composed of physicians, public health professionals and policy experts dedicated to protecting human health from environmental harms.  EHHI is committed to improving the public’s health and reducing environmental health risks to individuals.  www.ehhi.org

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PBS: NY Wood Boiler Documentary #1 26:46

To watch the video, click on the image or this link: http://video.wcny.org/video/2365087958

Rural New Yorkers are being smoked out of their homes by neighbors who use wood boilers (also called hydronic heaters) to heat their homes. PBS Insight host Susan Arbetter examines the controversy and uncovers a lack of adequate protection for neighbors’ health and safety. Interviewed: residents Bonnie Lichak and Jean Neidhardt, Peter Iwanawicz with the American Lung Association, and wood boiler advocates Jeff Williams, NY Farm Bureau, and Phil Gitlen, Central Boiler attorney and partner with Whiteman Osterman & Hanna. Features include the Central Boiler E-Classic 2400, an EPA Phase 2 hydronic heater.

More on the video including action alert: 2013 Sept 27 post: PBS show Insight with Susan Arbetter about Wood Boilers on RAWSEP – Residents Against Wood Smoke Emission Particulates

Contact: Clean Air Rights for Everyone of NY: http://www.careny.org  info@careny.org

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Yesterday, a new motion was filed in Alaska’s first and only enforcement case against the owners of two wood-fired hydronic heaters, often called outdoor wood boilers.

Case Motion #33: Joint Motion for Entry of Stipulated Final Judgment and Order 7/22/2013

This is a joint request from the state of Alaska–the plaintiff–and the defendants (the Straughns) to Judge Jane Kauvar. It appears the state has reached agreement with the defendants to settle the case, Alaska v. Straughn.

Straight down the line, the state’s claims have been favorably received from the court. There’s no need for a trial if the state gets everything it wanted in the settlement agreement.

FROM THE STATE – all granted by the judge

Case Motion #1:
Motion for Preliminary Injunction

Case Motion #3:
State’s Motion to Strike Defendants’ Jury Demand

Case Motion #9:
Motion to Amend Complaint

Case Motion #19:
Motion for Discovery Sanctions and to Compel

Case Motion #21:
Motion for Expedited Consideration

Case Motion #25:
Unopposed Motion for Commission to Take Out-of-State Deposition of Jeff Hallowell by Telephone (Hallowell is president of ClearStak)

Case Motion #29
Motion for Commision to Take Out-of State Deposition of Rodney Tollefson by Telephone [Tollefson is VP of Central Boiler]

FROM THE DEFENDANTS – all denied by the judge

Case Motion #7:
Cross Motion to dismiss Claims for Restitution Under 46.03.810(b)

Case Motion #12:
Motion to Extend Deadline to File Joinder of Parties

Case Motion #14:
Motion to Vacate Pre-Trial Dates or, in the Alternative, Stay Proceedings

Case Motion #15:
Motion to Extend Deadlines for Replies to Defendants Motions to Dismiss and to Vacate Pre-Trial Dates, or in the Alternative, Stay Proceedings

Case Motion #28:
Motion for Reconsideration Regarding Motion for Leave to Add Additional Parties

>> Link: CourtView to follow Alaska v. Straughn, also called the Woodriver case, case number 4FA-13-01205CI

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