Answer for houseboats? Businessman touts gas-exhaust solution
By Mark Shaffer
The Arizona Republic
February 8, 2001

Bill West thinks he has found an extremely low-tech answer to the death-zone problem of carbon monoxide under the swimming decks of houseboats.

It's called 17 feet of 2-inch-wide aluminum pipe connected to the boat's exhaust system sticking straight into the air like a flagpole.

Inspectors for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health certainly seemed impressed Wednesday at Wahweap Marina as they inspected 16 sites for carbon monoxide levels on and around boats owned by West's Lake-Time houseboat time-share business in Page.

"The upshot is that this looks really good. I think we have a good alternative here," said Jane McCammon, an inspector for the agency.

Many boat companies have retrofitted exhaust systems with side vents after revelations that carbon monoxide poisoning from houseboat exhaust, primarily from generators, had killed seven people and seriously injured 74 at Lake Powell.

Three congressmen, including Arizona Republicans J.D. Hayworth and Bob Stump, have called for a congressional inquiry into design flaws on houseboats, including hundreds on Lake Powell, which is visited by about 4 million tourists a year.

West demonstrated the exhaust technique Wednesday as safety and health inspectors entered exhaust test data into computers.

A gadget that separates water from carbon monoxide had been installed a few weeks before, West said. The poison gas is propelled up the aluminum pipe, and the water is released back to the lake surface.

"It looks like this system will cost between $1,000 and $1,500 per boat, and the side venting runs from $200 to $500," West said. "For the small difference of money, I'll take the safety of the stacked exhaust system."

For anyone worried about being exposed to exhaust on the boat's top deck, West posts signs warning of the dangers. But that exhaust is being released into an open space and will dissipate rapidly, he said.

 

    Copyright 2001, The Arizona Republic. All rights reserved. This article graciously provided courtesy of The Arizona Republic.