Highlights from This Week’s ASTM Meetings in Toronto

This week I headed across our northern border for the ASTM E50 meetings in Toronto, Canada.

On Tuesday night, EDR hosted a high-level cocktail reception (figuratively and literally) at the CN Tower, 1,151 feet above the city (see accompanying pictures below). This impressive observation tower, a signature icon of Toronto’s skyline, was declared one of the modern Seven Wonders of the World by the American Society of Civil Engineers and holds the distinction of being the tallest free-standing structure in the western hemisphere.

Below are the highlights from the four E 50 committee meetings that I attended:
Property Condition Assessment Standard (chair Bill Tryon)
– working on adding clarifications to various parts of the standard (e.g., ADA, life safety issues, etc.)
– will have further discussions on whether the PCA standard is the appropriate place for incorporating energy disclosure requirements for properties in states/metros with regulations on the books.
NEXT STEP: ballot expected to open this summer.
Alternative ESA Standard (chair Bill Tryon)
– in early stage of writing a standard for Phase I ESAs that are not driven by a need to identify RECs, go deeper than E1527
– would be for clients (e.g., large sophisticated financial institutions) that have their own detailed instructions for their consultants that go beyond 1527 to include things like ACM, compliance, risk tolerance, risk ranking, indirect liabilities, etc.
– NEXT STEP: define scope clearly (what is the product? who’s it for? how’s it different from 1527?)
Vapor Encroachment (chair Anthony Buonicore)
Revisions are being made to the E 2600, in these areas:
– REC definition made consistent with E 1527-13
– extensive revisions to tier 1 screening methodology (Section 8)
– looking to update several appendices (Legal Appendix, Appendix X5 with federal/state VI guidance web sites)
– deleting the “cannot be ruled out” outcome from a vapor migration assessment. The rationale is that it is difficult to “rule out” a VEC without undertaking a field investment which is outside the scope of 2600 (just as sampling is beyond the scope of a 1527 Phase I ESA). Instead, the purpose of the E2600 process will be defined to identify VEC status as follows:
o VEC exists (physical evidence)
o VEC likely (within close proximity)
o VEC does not exist or unlikely to exist
o If VEC does not exist or is unlikely to exist, vapor migration evaluation completed.
o If VEC exists or is likely, determine if VEC is a REC.
– NEXT STEP: Expected to begin balloting new standard at end of 2014, with a new version published in late 2015.
Last but not least, E 1527 (chair Julie Kilgore)
This meeting was focused on a very interesting discussion Julie led about the industry’s adoption of E 1527-13:
– Outreach to TG members (EPs and lenders) suggests that most have embraced -13 at this point. She noted that this finding was reinforced by EDR Insight’s January survey of EPs (just a few weeks after EPA recognized -13 as AAI-compliant) showing that more than 60% of EPs were already using -13 for all of their Phase Is.
– In one interesting example, the City of Orange released an RFP for Phase I one month ago indicating reliance on -05 (possibly because their standard RFP has not yet been updated). Four out of five proposals that came back stated reliance on -13.
– Some end users are accepting both -05 or -13. Those asking for -05 are generally those who are unaware that there’s been an update. This will likely change when EPA removes the reference to -05 in the AAI rule (see below).
– Federal agencies like the SBA are accepting Phase Is done to -13 (expected to update their SOP in next round of revision)
– Overall, very little criticism of -13. The most common area of adjustment appears to be in the impact of agency file reviews on turnaround time due to the wait time of obtaining records from government agencies.
– NEXT STEPS: In response to growing concerns about poor-quality Phase I ESA reports, there are early discussions about an ASTM peer review panel for companies to voluntarily submit their Phase I ESA reports for review.
-U.S. EPA’s Patricia Overmeyer was on the call to give the TG a heads up that the agency’s proposed rule to remove the AAI rule’s reference to E 1527-05 has already been drafted and is expected to be published in late spring, opening up the requisite public comment period.

ASTM

 

PICTURED at CN Tower’s 360 Lounge are (L-R): EDR’s Paul Schiffer, attorney Chris McCormack, EDR Insight’s Dianne Crocker, EP Mark Westra, ASTM Phase I ESA Task Group chair Julie Kilgore, EDR’s Lauren Rosencranz, Terracon’s John Sallman, attorney Bill Weissman and chair of the ASTM Forestland Phase I ESA Task Group Dave Parsonage.