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The American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) recently updated ASTM E1527-13 Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Standard (Phase I ESA). The new version, E1527-21 “Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process” was approved by ASTM International in November 2021. In December 2022, the USEPA adopted amendments to their All Appropriate Inquiries (AAI) Rule to reference ASTM International’s E1527-21 and requiring compliance with E1527-21 to satisfy AAI under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). The Final Rule removes the recognition of the previous version of the standard, ASTM E1527-13, as compliant with the AAI rule after one year. 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 are included in the Standard.

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