Modifications to the Phase I ESA Process – Part 2

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A December 30, 2013, EPA final rule (78 FR 31112) amended 40 CFR Part 312 (All Appropriate Inquiries [AAI]) to reference ASTM International’s E1527-13 Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments:  Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) Process.  The AAI amendment was effective December 30, 2013.

Per the final rule, EPA recognizes the newly issued ASTM E1527-13 as compliant with AAI.  Therefore, “persons conducting all appropriate inquiries may use the procedures included in the standard to comply with the All Appropriate Inquiries Rule.”

ASTM published the revised E1527 standard on November 1, 2013. ASTM E1527-13 reflects the consensus of its technical committee, and as such is the industry-accepted standard of care for conducting Phase I ESAs.

EPA stated that “the ASTM E1527-13 standard is similar to the ASTM E1527-05 standard in format, process, and areas of coverage.” In general, the revisions included:

  •  New and revised terminology related to Recognized Environmental Conditions (RECs)
  • Clarification related to the applicability of the vapor pathway to ASTM E1527
  • Language regarding file reviews including agency file reviews and judicial records

EPA’s amendment offers the option of using ASTM E1527-13 to conduct all appropriate inquiries; however, the December 30, 2013 rule does not require use of ASTM E1527-13. Although not required, EPA’s final rule included the following:

  •  “ASTM E1527-13 provides an improved process for parties who wish to undertake AAI.”
  • The “changes enhance the usefulness of the standard” in identifying potential and threatened releases
  • “ASTM E1527-13 improves upon the previous standard and reflects the evolving best practices and level of rigor that will afford prospective property owners necessary and essential information when making property transaction decisions”
  • “EPA views these enhancements and clarifications to the ASTM standard as valuable improvements and strongly encourages prospective purchasers of real property to use the updated ASTM E1527-13 standard”
  • “EPA recommends that environmental professionals and prospective purchasers use the ASTM E1527-13 standard.”

Additionally, EPA also announced its intent to publish a proposed rule, in the near future, that will propose removing the previous reference to the 2005 standard from AAI; thus supplanting the 2005 standard with the 2013 standard.

If you have any questions about ASTM E1527-13 and how it may impact an upcoming project or Phase I ESAs in general, please contact Jennifer A. Ewing, P.G., (jewing@cecinc.com) at 800-365-2324.

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