EPA adopts ASTM E1527-13 Standard
EPA finalized a rule last week adopting the revised ASTM E1527-13 "Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process" as a standard by which parties may comply with the "All Appropriate Inquiries" Rule, 40 CFR Part 312.
In the United States, the Phase I ESA is a report prepared for a piece of property that identifies potential or existing environmental contamination liabilities. Phase I ESAs assess risks of ownership and are conducted in order to determine if a site may be contaminated from past spills, leaking underground storage tanks, or historical uses of the site, to name a few.
American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) released the revised E1527-13 standard in November 2013, and now the EPA has announced that they will recognize it. However, the newly revised EPA rule does not delete reference to the previous ASTM standard, E1527-05, so as of now, both standards are acceptable.
However, in the Federal Register notice finalizing the rule, EPA indicated that it does intend to propose an amendment to 40 CFR Part 312 removing reference to the E1527-05 standard. In its response to comments received on the new rule, EPA noted that it "... agrees with commenters that the revised ASTM E1527-13 standard includes improvements to the previous standard and its use will result in greater clarity for prospective purchases with regard to potential contamination at a property. Therefore, EPA recommends that environmental professionals and prospective purchasers use the ASTM E1527-13 standard."
Some changes to the standard include:
- Clarification to the definition of a Recognized Environmental Condition (REC). A REC is the presence or likely presence of any hazardous substances or petroleum products, in, on, or at a property.
- Addition of the term: "Controlled RECs". Controlled RECs refer to contamination that has been remediated, but still may be the basis for ongoing or future land use or exposure control obligations
- Identifying potential for vapor releases, or the potential presence or migration of vapors associated with hazardous substances or petroleum products.
- Greater emphasis on conducting regulatory file reviews, particularly of adjacent properties, which may pose a concern.
Environmental Hazard image via Shutterstock.