ASTM E1527-13 Standard – Phase I Environmental Site Assessments

The revised version of the ASTM E1527 Standard for Phase I Environmental Site Assessments has not been released and is currently under review. The revised ASTM Standard is due to be released in 2013 (hence a new title of ASTM E1527-13). The current standard used in the industry is ASTM E1527-05, fully named “Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process.” The ASTM E1527-05 Standard was designed to meet the EPA’s requirement for All Appropriate Inquiry for environmental due diligence, and the new ASTM E1527-13 will also need to be approved by EPA as meeting the AAI requirement

ASTM E1527-13 is not expected to change the Phase I ESA scope dramatically and many of the potential changes serve simply to clarify language. However, several potential changes could impact the way Phase I ESAs are conducted or written.

For example, ASTM E1527-13 may include a potential new category of Recognized Environmental Condition (REC) that has been proposed: the Controlled Recognized Environmental Condition (CREC), which would apply to risk-based closures of contaminated sites. If adopted, this new term would impact the way findings and conclusions are discussed in the Phase I ESA Report, and could potentially impact the report user’s understanding of environmental risk. Certainly the term would require some education of the industry.

Another potential change to the E1527 process is an explicit requirement for regulatory file reviews on adjacent properties. Many environmental consultants already perform these file reviews during the Phase I ESA when deemed appropriate due to high risk information being identified at the adjacent properties (such as a leaking gas station). However, an explicit mandate for these file reviews could impact the cost and timing of the Phase I Report, as well as the environmental consultant’s liability.

A decision will have to be made in 2013 whether to adopt any changes to the E1527 standard, or renew the standard as is.