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Raising the Standard: What can we Expect from New Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Standard?

Posted on June 22, 2021

Every three to eight years, ASTM International reviews and updates their standards, including the Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process (E1527). The proposed changes for 2021 are anticipated to incorporate clarification to many of the definitions introduced in 2013, and critical processes based on lessons learned from Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (Phase I ESAs) completed under E1727-13 in the past seven years. Additionally, to promote consistency with All Appropriate Inquiries (AAI) as required under sections 101(35)(B)(ii) and (iii) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and to improve the overall quality of Phase I ESAs across the industry, the 2021 update will also include more guidance, a logic flow chart, and examples in new appendices. Some of the key changes may include:

  • Clarifying many definitions, anticipated to include updates to the definition of a Recognized Environmental Condition (REC), including the term “likely,” which will also be defined, as well as the definitions of a controlled REC, a historic REC, and significant data gaps;
  • Updates and clarifications to various processes including site reconnaissance and historical research, which may include researching the actual historical uses of adjoining properties;
  • Updates to the environmental professional’s duties, including responsible charge obligations; and
  • Clarification of Report Validity period (i.e., “shelf life”) requirements to ensure compliance with AAI.

Furthermore, the ASTM Phase I ESA Task Force is tackling per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as “PFAS,” and other emerging containments not yet classified by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) as hazardous substances, by adding them to the list of “Non-Scope Considerations.” Interestingly, the list of Non-Scope Considerations is anticipated to now also include PCB-containing building materials such as caulk and paint.

The proposed revisions to the ASTM E1527 Phase I ESA standard should be ready for USEPA review later this year, with publication expected during the fall/winter of 2021.

Roux performs environmental due diligence, including Phase I ESAs supporting real estate transactions and evaluations across the country. If you have questions regarding due diligence or inquiries on how these upcoming changes to the ASTM Phase I ESA standard may affect you, please fill out the form below.

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