Effective December 30, 2013, the EPA issued a rule formally recognizing the ASTM E1527-13 Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Standard as meeting the requirements of All Appropriate Inquiries (AAI) under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). This final rule posted in the Federal Register amends the AAI rule in 40 CFR Part 312, to include ASTM E1527-13, encouraging widespread use of the new standard in our industry.
What does the EPA’s rule mean?
The announcement of the EPA’s final rule clears the way for the ASTM 1527-13 standard to become the new industry standard of care, and to provide prospective purchasers a method to secure CERCLA liability protections.
The EPA stated, “Although today’s action will not remove the current reference in the All Appropriate Inquiries Rule to the ASTM E1527-05 standard, EPA agrees with commenters that the revised ASTM E1527-13 standard includes improvements to the previous standard and its use will result in greater clarity for prospective purchases with regard to potential contamination at a property. Therefore, EPA recommends that environmental professionals and prospective purchasers use the ASTM E1527-13 standard.”
Further, the final rule indicated that, “in the near future, EPA intends to publish a proposed rulemaking to remove the reference to the ASTM E1527-05 standard in the All Appropriate Inquiries Rule,” in order to reduce regulatory confusion and to reference the most up-to-date ASTM standard.
The EPA also noted that they have always considered vapor “a relevant potential source of release or threatened release” and the Agency “applauds the revisions made by ASTM International to the updated E1527–13 standard regarding vapor migration”.
The main revisions and clarifications added to the E 1527-13 standard include:
- An updated definition of Recognized Environmental Conditions (REC) and the addition of definitions for Historical Recognized Environmental Conditions (HREC) and Controlled Recognized Environmental Conditions (CREC).
- A revised definition of “migrate/migration” to specifically include vapor migrations (For more information, view our webinar on Vapor and Environmental Liability)
- Additional guidance related to the regulatory agency file and records review requirement to provide a standardized framework for verifying agency information obtained from key databases.” (Read our brief: New Agency File Review Language in ASTM E 1527-13: What Does It Mean for You?)
What will happen next?
The final rule announcement encourages widespread use of the new standard, emphasizes the place of vapor screening in a Phase I ESA, clarifies the place of agency file reviews and introduces a new REC definition. If you still have questions about the changes and clarifications made to the standard, check out our ASTM E1527-13 Toolkit.