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The American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) committee recently updated the ASTM E1527 Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Standard (Phase I ESA). The current version, E1527-13, was published in 2013 and the updated version was approved by ASTM International in November 2021. The USEPA issued a rule in March 2022 adopting E1527-21, which was set to become final on May 13, 2022; however, due to adverse comments the rule is not yet final. Since it is anticipated that the EPA will address the comments and issue the rule in final soon, it is currently acceptable to use either version of the standard or a hybrid of the two. Here are a few key changes to look for in the 2021 standard.

  • The shelf life (180 days) of a Phase I ESA is not based on the report date, but rather it starts at the earliest component completed (i.e. interviews, lien search, review of environmental databases and regulatory files, site visit, etc).
  • Emerging contaminants are not included in the updated standard since they are not CERCLA hazardous substances at this time. On September 8, 2022, the EPA issued a proposed rule to designate perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) as hazardous substances under CERCLA. Until the rule is adopted and PFAS are added to the hazardous substances list, the Environmental Professional may choose to include review of emerging contaminants as a non-scope consideration similar to asbestos, lead-based paint and radon.  It should be noted that combination Phase I ESA/Preliminary Assessment Reports (NJ) must include the evaluation of emerging contaminants to satisfy regulations at the state level.
  • The ASTM committee prepared a flow chart to help the Environmental Professional more easily and consistently determine whether a condition should be considered a recognized environmental condition (REC), a controlled recognized environmental condition (CREC), a historical recognized environmental condition (HREC) or a de minimis condition.  Examples for each have also been included.

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