A Historical Recognized Environmental Condition is defined by ASTM as “an environmental condition which in the past would have been considered a recognized environmental condition, but which may or may not be considered a recognized environmental condition currently.” The determination of whether an environmental condition is a recognized environmental condition (REC) or a historical recognized environmental condition (HREC) lies with the environmental professional, and depends upon how the condition impacts the current or future use of the property. A release that was remediated and given regulatory closure may be considered an HREC unless it is determined to have a significant current or future impact on the property, at which point the environmental professional may deem it a REC.
The term historic recognized environmental condition is sometimes improperly used. “HREC” is not intended to refer to a an environmental concern that was caused by a historic activity and still represents a current environmental concern. For example, take a site that was previously used as a drycleaners from the 1950s to 1970s and is currently contaminated from the former drycleaning operations. The former drycleaners would be considered a REC even though the drycleaning was a historic activity, rather than an HREC, because the site is still currently contaminated. If the contamination had been remediated, given regulatory closure, and it is determined that it no longer has a impact to the property or human health, then the former drycleaners and contamination could be considered an HREC.