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OWF Regulations Unfair

e live in Hampden and have been using an outdoor wood burning furnace (OWF) to heat our home for two years. We follow the "best burn practices" recommended by Central Boiler, keep our seasoned wood dry and have heightened our smokestack to 33' which prevents downdrafts and thoroughly disperses the smoke particulates which more than meets the EPA guidelines derived from its ambient air quality studies. Our furnace doesn't produce a smokestream except when we load it with wood, which is only two or three times on a winter day and it's gone within five minutes. Most owners are diligent and know how to burn effectively and minimize smoke emissions. We value our investments and our 25 year warranties.

Setback requirements in some towns are unduly stringent but the EPA requires only 100' between the unit and nearest neighbors and a 22' stack. The units can be as close as 18" to the house; no town can justify an extended setback. The single most critical adaptation is a heightened smokestack. Our town wants a 250' setback from a neighbor and 50' from the owner's house. We installed ours 170' from the nearest neighbor; after they added on it was 145'. We should have been grandfathered in. Though none of us is violating the visible smoke regulations nor creating a nuisance condition, all owners in Hampden must comply this month or incur fines; the ground is frozen so no one can move their furnace, and it's very difficult to shut down an OWF in the winter. Further, the town hasn't sent anyone to personally observe our smoke output or try to validate the testimony of a neighbor.

Apparently health officials are basing their decisions on their conversations with other boards, the flawed report by NESCAUM (Northeast States Coalition for Air Use Management) and the false statistics being purveyed by a local professor who wants all wood burning abolished and who happens to sell another type of alternative heating on the side.

NESCAUM's report is unreliable because NESCAUM sidestepped a protocol used in lab measurements of particulates: a cold furnace is lined with a coal bed, then dry wood is loaded, the furnace is started and the smoke particulates are measured. NESCAUM failed to use the coal bed, and they also used a load of wood that had been rained on so the smoke contained moisture and the added weight of the water molecules was included in their measurements of the particulate matter! NESCAUM's results were three times higher than privately sponsored studies! The state sponsors a web board for town health officials and it evidently gave credence to NESCAUM'S report and the writings of the above mentioned professor so it's quite possible that the foundational information that officials are getting is flawed! That may explain why towns are hyper- regulating and why a prejudicial mindset towards OWF's and their owners exist. We're wondering if they've even read the studies that we've given them. Thankfully Rep. Rogeness's office has offered to investigate NESCAUM's report.

Wood is a renewable, carbon neutral resource and OWFs save money. To ban their use is oppressive: we're in a recession, the middle class is being squeezed and economists have warned that the U.S. will suffer financial collapse in the next few years.and we can't burn wood? Everyone should be researching an alternative heating method and fund it with investment money if needed. Neighbors can share the cost of a large furnace capable of heating two homes. Forego buying a home theater and buy an OWF or solar panels or pellet stoves etc.

The taxpayer supported-DEP should be using its funding to help OWF owners move their units and for indoor woodstove owners to upgrade to safer, newer stoves and stop wasting time and money hurting and confusing the public. Please support S. 485 and inform your legislators that you support our rights to safely and affordably heat our homes and businesses with outdoor wood furnaces. For more facts see: and or call Central Boiler at (218) 782-2575.

Robb and Lynne Wallace