Breaking News: ASTM Releases Revised Phase I ESA Standard

The American Society for Testing and Material (ASTM) released a revised standard for conducting Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (Phase I ESAs) on November 1, 2021. This is the first time Phase I ESA standard has been revised since 2013. The new standard, ASTM E1527-21, sets new requirements for complying with the USEPA “All Appropriate Inquiry” (AAI) rule (see below for definition) in 40 CFR Part 312. The USEPA is expected to recognize the ASTM E1527-21 standard as compliant with AAI within the next year.

This revision is pertinent for those wishing to purchase/refinance/loan or lease properties and serves as an important reminder that Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) should be completed properly for innocent purchaser protections.

Changes to the ASTM E1527-21 standard include definitions for “Property Use Limitation” and “Significant Gap Data”. Other changes include emerging contaminants (such as PFAS) as a non-scope consideration, a new historical records section that reflects current industry standards, and a revised list of environmental risks and classifications.

The definitions for Recognized Environmental Condition (REC); Controlled Recognized Environmental Condition (CREC); and Historical Recognized Environmental Condition (HREC) have all been updated with important clarifications, including:

  • Offsite issues without the potential to impact the subject property are now clearly excluded from the definition of REC.
  • The Findings and Opinions section of a Phase I ESA must now include the rationale for finding a condition is a CREC or a HREC; and
  • For each HREC, the environmental professional must also state whether the HREC still qualifies as an HREC.

What’s the AAI Rule?

USEPA’s “All Appropriate Inquiries” rule describes the process for evaluating a property’s environmental conditions and assessing potential liability for any contamination. All appropriate inquiries must be conducted to obtain certain liability protections under the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).

ESI is aware of the new changes and will ensure our customers will be compliant with the new standard. ESI has been providing clients with unparalleled environment solutions for over 45 years.