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Old 12-24-2010, 08:41 AM
 
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I know this is an old thread, but I think I read the smurfit container company went bankrupt and closed the mill in Missoula. Is that true? Are there any other industries left in Missoula or surrounding areas that are big polluters? Do many people use wood burning or pellet stoves to heat? I thought the new stoves had to burn alot cleaner now. Some even have catalytic converters to make them more efficient.
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Old 12-24-2010, 12:07 PM
 
Location: Spots Wyoming
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nwbound27 View Post
I know this is an old thread, but I think I read the smurfit container company went bankrupt and closed the mill in Missoula. Is that true? Are there any other industries left in Missoula or surrounding areas that are big polluters? Do many people use wood burning or pellet stoves to heat? I thought the new stoves had to burn alot cleaner now. Some even have catalytic converters to make them more efficient.
I don't live close to Missoula, however I wanted to chime in on your question of heat.

Where I live (Big Horn mountains of Wyoming) I'd guesstimate about 10% to 15% of the homes use wood or coal for primary heat. Those homes all have some sort of other heat. i.e. gas/propane furnace. Most homes will have the furnace set at 50-60 and then use the wood stove to vary the temp during the day or evening. I only know of one place that is wood/coal heat and no backup.

Pellet stoves are very efficient and if you can catch pellets on sale you can get a pallet for $100-$150.

Around here, lodge pole pine runs about $100 per cord and you have to go pick it up. But it's mature, dry, cut and split. If you want to go out and get your own wood, a permit for the mountains runs $12 a cord with a minimum of 2 cord and a maximum of 10 cord. (If I remember correctly).

There is no hard wood to be had around here. I do go out and cut cottonwood and it's a good clean wood to burn.
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Old 12-24-2010, 01:50 PM
 
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Thanks for the information. I was always told it is not good to burn softwood, because it builds up creosote in the chimney. How long does that amount of pellets last as compared to pine? I love wood heat and would hate not to at least have it for back up.
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Old 12-24-2010, 04:08 PM
 
Location: State of General Disarray
836 posts, read 1,349,170 times
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Yes, Smurfit is gone but there is a rumor that the mill has been purchased and may be re-opened within the next year (info has been sketchy). I never caught a whiff of Smurfit when it was operational, since, as someone already mentioned, it's not very close to town anyway.

So Missoula's pollution is not really caused by industrial operations. Temperature inversions over the valley trap smoke and smog, especially in winter. The problem basically is that pollution can't escape and builds up. Last week I went hiking in the mountains and saw the town engulfed in a yellow-brown cloud. Several days the past few weeks we've been under "Air Stagnation Warnings" which mean, basically, we should stop breathing for the sake of our health.

Older relatives tell us that it used to be much, much worse here when the use of wood and coal was more widespread.

Plenty of people still burn wood in town but I would say it's mostly a supplementary, and not primary, heat source. Because of the problematic pollution the county has implemented some regulations on the use of wood burners, which, if you're interested, can be found here: Environmental Health - Air Quality Topics: Woodstoves and Fireplaces
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Old 12-25-2010, 10:19 AM
 
Location: Montana
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"Thanks for the information. I was always told it is not good to burn softwood, because it builds up creosote in the chimney. How long does that amount of pellets last as compared to pine? I love wood heat and would hate not to at least have it for back up."
ONE main thing with pellet stoves: it needs electricity to function !!! Power does go out once in a while
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Old 12-25-2010, 11:35 AM
 
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I did not know that, so if I need back-up heat it will have to be wood. Thanks for the info.
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Old 12-25-2010, 10:51 PM
 
Location: Approximately 50 miles from Missoula MT/38 yrs full time after 4 yrs part time
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[quote=strudel42;17127031] I never caught a whiff of Smurfit when it was operational, since, as someone already mentioned, it's not very close to town anyway. If the "wind direction happens to be "just right".....The mill at Frenchtown (when it was operational) was able to be "smelled" as far away as the Victor area down in the Bitterroot. I've lived in the Victor area for over 31 years and have "smelled" the mill several times in the past --admittedly, not in the last couple of years.

So Missoula's pollution is not really caused by industrial operations. Temperature inversions over the valley trap smoke and smog, especially in winter. ..Very true.... The problem basically is that pollution (from a variety of sources: i.e. vehicle exhaust; fireplaces; wood stoves; controlled burnes; dust from "winter road-sanding"; etc,etc) can't escape and builds up. Last week I went hiking in the mountains and saw the town engulfed in a yellow-brown cloud. And bear in mind, these "air inversions" can occur in virtually any "valley" or area surronded by mountains. The other situation that you should be made aware of: During periods of "wild-land forest fires", such as the summer of 1988, 2000, 2002 and others in the recent past,.....the smoke and particulate pollution that much of western Montana was subjected to (in some cases...weeks on end) was extremely severe. During a 7 week period in August and September of 2000, the local hospital in Hamilton gave out over 5000 "air-masks" to those people who requested them due to their breathing problems. Several days the past few weeks we've been under "Air Stagnation Warnings" which mean, basically, we should stop breathing for the sake of our health.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nwbound27 View Post
Thanks for the information. I was always told it is not good to burn softwood, because it builds up creosote in the chimney. .....Sorry, the following several lines of info should also be in Red....thus posted by Griz and directed to nwbound27....... True, however, if you maintain a "hot" fire" and not "choke-it-down" excessively by closing the damper too much......you greatly minimize the creosote build-up,.......and periodically build a "really-hot-fire" about every few weeks, (this really "cleans-out" the chimmney) you won't have a problem. I have two wood burning fireplaces in my home that utilize "outside air" for combustion (this helps maintain a slight "positive-air pressure" within the house) and are "heat-chamber" designed and distribute the heated house air through a "duct system" driven by squirrel cage fans.......I have burned nothing but Ponderosa Pine and Lodgepole for over 30 years and never have had a problem. (7 to 8 cords a "winter-season" to heat a 2150 sq foot house).
Quote:
Originally Posted by nwbound27;17122798 Do many people use wood burning or pellet stoves to heat? [I
Yes many do.....probably 15 to 20% of the homes in the western Montana area around Missoula have some form of supplemental heat supplied by a wood burning appliance of some type.[/i]
...The above comments and opinions in RED are directed to "nwbound27", so try any give her an 'over-all feel" for air pollution situations that can and will occur not only in the Missoula/ Bitterroot area(s) but can and will occur in many other places in Montana, Idaho Wyoming and similiar areas in the Rocky Mountain west.

Please bear in mind, the above stated opinions and comments are strictly my personal observations and may not work for others as they have worked for me. I take no responsibility for suggesting that anyone follow my "suggestions" and "opinions". I simply thought it advisable to pass my thoughts on to 'nwbound27' for "whatever-they-are-worth".
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Old 12-26-2010, 05:50 AM
 
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Thanks Montana Griz for the very informative response! Your experiences are invaluable and I'm sure that knowledge would only come from someone that lived and not visited Montana. I would hate to contribute to the pollution and hope that there could be an eventual solution to the air inversions, but realistically I know that is part of living in a valley.

I think the oldest man in US, lives in Great Falls, MT at 114yrs, so the climate and overall environment must not be too bad for your health and longevity.
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Old 12-26-2010, 10:00 AM
 
Location: NW Montana
451 posts, read 899,149 times
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A couple of additional thoughts on the nature of firewood, etc.:

We heated buildings with oak and hickory when we lived in the upper Midwest. Some of those were as primary heat sources - some as backup - in one place it was everything, including cooking. When contemplating our move to Montana, we also were concerned about burning softwoods (conifers) as a heat source. We also had heard or read that there would be "too much creosote".

Well guess what? B-a-l-o-n-e-y. Big time!

The only chimney fires of real consequence I have ever witnessed were the result of improper burning of wood, not the type of wood. And, for what it's worth, I've seen many more chimney fires in systems using oak than those burning pine or fir. Montana Griz properly explained this matter in his red letter edition. I merely wish to add, that the chimney or flue pipe themselves are quite important. And Not only their construction, but also their length and whether or not they are either insulated or protected from outside weather. An outside flue pipe of metal, even if constructed of triple wall steel, is far more likely to develop a problem than an indoor masonry chimney. Some this has to do with condensation factors. So it is really more a matter of operator error. If you learn the correct methods of burning wood, and to how to operate and maintain your system, you will greatly reduce the unwanted fire hazards. After all, some of these Montanans have been heating with pine/fir for decades, and a few have managed to survive without becoming crispy.

Also, just as a point of reference: Oak may have equal or even greater creosote production than some conifers. The actual quality of the wood has much more to do with how dry, how seasoned, and how small (diameter) it is when being burned. Google is your friend for info on BTU's and burning characteristics of wood. You'll find many charts on the topic.


mg
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Old 12-26-2010, 02:27 PM
 
Location: State of General Disarray
836 posts, read 1,349,170 times
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good points from Griz... I stand by my assertion of never smelling Smurfit, but the sewer plant off of Mullan.... peeeee-yew! (Why is there not a Mr. Yuck smiley option?)

Forest fire seasons bring terrible, terrible air. A few years ago when Montana was experiencing bad fires, a coworker told me he had been awakened in the middle of the night by smoke detectors, and no, it wasn't his house that was on fire...
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