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Revisions to Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) in 2013


On August 15, 2013, the USEPA published notice of its “direct final action” to amend its All Appropriate Inquiries (AAI) regulation (40 CFR Part 312) to incorporate reference to ASTM E 1527-13, a forthcoming revision to ASTM International’s Standard Practice for Environmental Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process.  Specifically, this direct final rule amends the All Appropriate Inquiries Rule to reference ASTM International’s forthcoming E1527-13 “Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process” and allow for its use to satisfy the requirements for conducting all appropriate inquiries under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act.  Interestingly, the revised rule would allow use of the current ASTM E 1527-05 as well as the revised E 1527-13 to satisfy AAI.

This rule will become effective on November 13, 2013, without further notice, unless EPA receives adverse comment by September 16, 2013.

The EPA notice can be found at www.regulations.gov , docket number EPA-HQ-SFUND-2013-0513.

Revisions to Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) in 2013

The Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) standards are expected to be revised in 2013. Environmental Consultants like TAIT, Corporate Real Estate professionals,  investors, and lenders are all keeping an eye on the ASTM International (ASTM) who establishes the standard used for ESAs in conjunction with the Environmental Protection Agency, which governs environmental regulations.

The guidance document that outlines the tasks the EPA requires is the ASTM E1527-05.  The Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments,  Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process is currently being revised and is expected to be published as ASTM E1527-13 by early summer 2013.

The ASTM bylaws require standards to be reviewed, updated and reissued every eight years. The current standard on Phase I ESAs was last revised in 2005. The ASTM E50 Task Group was formed in 2010 to revise versions for subcommittee voting. Several changes have been proposed. Final balloting with the ASTM E50 Committee waws completed last week, and the final standard should now go to the EPA for formal approval.

Some changes being discussed are:

  • that the new standard may require Reference to ASTM E2600-10, Vapor Encroachment Screening Standard, which would recognize vapor plumes as another source of contamination that should be covered /vapor encroachment be considered in the Phase I report. TAIT currently evaluates the potential for vapor intrusion when conducting Phase I ESAs in order to protect our clients.
  • changes to the definition of the term “recognized environmental condition” (REC)
  • changes to the definition of the term “historical environmental condition” (HREC)
  •  addition of a new term, a new category of Recognized Environmental Conditions (RECs), a “Controlled Recognized Environmental Condition.” The “CREC” would refer to environmental contamination currently under control but which may pose a threat in the future, and would address past contamination to soil and/or groundwater that had been previously remediated
  • may mandate an “Agency File Review”, review of some files and related correspondence in local, state and federal regulatory agencies concerning the site or adjacent properties. Review of these files is often included in Phase I reports already, but requiring such review may well increase the cost of the Phase I and/or the length of time necessary to prepare the report. In order to provide a complete evaluation of a property, TAIT already considers this part of hte due diligence process and conducts agency file reeviews aws part of a Phase I ESA on a regular basis.

If you are planning to purchase or finance the purchase of commercial or industrial property, you need to know what is required to protect your business from potentially severe environmental liabilities. Tait Environmental Services has a longstanding history of performing in-depth Phase I Environmental Site Assessments with some client relationships spanning over 20 years. TAIT offers specialty Phase I’s geared towards major retail chains, petroleum storage tank sites, and other commercial properties. The results of your Phase I ESA may require a more extensive investigation, the Phase II ESA.

Here is one Testimonial reflecting on TAIT’s Phase I ESA quality: “the report looks very comprehensive.   I know it was a beast to deal with all these parcels and your team did a great job!” – Law firm in CA

Please contact Ann Hillyard with proposals, questions and to learn more about TAIT’s Phase I and Phase II site assessments.