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New ASTM Standard for Phase I Environmental Site Assessments

The EPA has issued both a final rule incorporating revised ASTM International standard practices, ASTM International’s E1527–21 ‘‘Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process,’’ and a proposed rule soliciting comment on this action. The final rule incorporates the new ASTM standard as one of three different standards upon which prospective purchasers of real property may rely to satisfy CERCLA’s All Appropriate Inquiries (AAI) Rule. The rule is expected to go into effect on May 13, 2022, unless EPA receives significant negative comments.

Changes to the Phase I Environmental ASTM Standard

The updated ASTM standard should help to improve of clarity of its requirements, promote a more consistent practice throughout the industry, and reduce inconsistencies from firm to firm in their findings. The key changes include:

  • Important terms including Recognized Environmental Conditions (REC), Controlled REC and Historical REC were redefined in an effort to promote a more logical process of identification, and to provide additional detail of established engineering and institutional controls, when applicable.
  • The requirements for  historical research were bolstered to require a minimum of four standard historical resources to be consulted; previously the Environmental Professional was give more latitude to consult only as many resources as needed to satisfy the standard.
  • Compliance with Phase I ESA report “shelf-life” or viability period of 180 days was clarified to be applicable to five main AAI components – interviews, visual inspection, government records review, Environmental Professional’s declaration, and search for environmental cleanup liens. The dates of completion for each must now be reported in Phase I reports.
  • “Emerging contaminants” (example: PFAS compounds) are now referenced as a Non-ASTM scope topic that may be addressed in a Phase I ESA report; although, as with other Non-ASTM topics, it is not necessary to comply with AAI requirements.

Impact to Phase I Clients

Despite concerns that firms may face longer timelines to complete due diligence, our team proactively revised its practice in January 2022 to meet the updated standard. Our overall processes and standard turnaround times remain relatively unchanged as our current Phase I product is already meeting the anticipated updates to the ASTM Standard.

About Hillmann

Hillmann specializes in Real Estate Due Diligence and Remediation Management. Our Due Diligence services are designed to help mitigate potential environmental risk and liability. Our site assessment/investigation services also include subsurface investigations performed as part of property transfer due diligence or as required by local, state, or federal regulation. If you have questions about this pending ASTM Standard update, please feel free to contact us.

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Additional ResourcesEPA Adopts New ASTM Standard for Phase I Environmental Site Assessments

  1. ASTM E1527-21 | Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process
  2. Federal Register / Vol. 87, No. 49 / Monday, March 14, 2022 / Rules and Regulations