Ithaca Bans Outdoor Wood-burning Boilers; Looks at Stoves

Updated: 2:53 pm, Wed Jun 11, 2014
By Michael Nocella

During its public meeting on Wednesday, June 4 the City of Ithaca’s Common Council passed an ordinance to amend city municipal code for “Exterior Maintenance” in order to impose a total ban of outdoor wood-burning furnaces within city limits. The ordinance, recommended by Alderperson Cynthia Brock (D-1st) states that outdoor wood-burning furnaces produce smoke that “often contains unhealthy levels of particulate matter, dioxins, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, hydrochloric acid, formaldehyde, and other toxic pollutants.”

According to Brock’s memo regarding the ban of outdoor wood boilers (OWBs), they are “large wood-burning units that are installed outside homes for the purpose of creating hot water to heat one or more homes. While considered an inexpensive heating method, OWB’s design promotes a cooler, slow-burning fire, which does not achieve peak combustion, resulting in high levels of smoke and creosote emissions, as well as nuisance smells. Owners of OWBs sometimes burn trash, plastic and other inappropriate materials in their units which increases smoke and pollutant levels.”

Although council and residents described the ordinance as a step in the right direction, both parities agreed that indoor wood stoves—which are more popular and currently allowed under city law—are the larger problem at hand.
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