|Transaction Screen Process Standard Undergoes Major Revision
An ASTM International environmental assessment standard has recently undergone major revisions to reflect relevant changes in federal law. The standard, E 1528, Practice for Limited Environmental Due Diligence: Transaction Screen Process, is under the jurisdiction of Subcommittee E50.02 on Real Estate Assessment and Management, which is part of ASTM International Committee E50 on Environmental Assessment, Risk Management and Corrective Action.
Practice E 1528 was originally approved in 1993, along with Practice E 1527, Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process as a tool for property owners to follow in order to satisfy the qualifying criteria for the innocent landowner defense of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act. However, the enactment of the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfield Revitalization Act (Brownfields Act) in 2002 minimized the relevance of E 1528 to CERCLA liability protection.
In order to qualify for any of the three protections covered by the Brownfields Act the innocent landowner defense, the contiguous property owner and bona fide prospective purchaser protections a property owner must conduct all appropriate inquiries into the previous ownership and uses of the property prior to taking title to the property. The act also directed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to write the first federal rule dictating the steps required to meet the all-appropriate-inquiries requirement and identified Practice E 1527 as an appropriate interim protocol. However, in its supporting documentation for the AAI rule, EPA stated, “The less stringent transaction screen (ASTM E 1528) is not an interim standard and does not meet the requirements for obtaining the CERCLA liability protections.”
In order to reestablish the general relevance of Practice E 1528, Subcommittee E50.02 redesigned it as a tool for identifying any current or past potential environmental concerns at low risk sites or other sites for which CERCLA liability immunity is not a concern. “The newly revised E 1528 makes a clear distinction between a Phase I ESA, aimed at establishing CERCLA liability immunity and limited environmental due diligence that can be performed at lower cost by the user but provides no CERCLA liability protection,” says Jon Walker, Environmental Data Resources.
A feature story taking an in-depth look at the revisions to Practice E 1528 will be included in the June issue of SN.
Technical Information: Jon Walker, Environmental Data Resources, Milford, Conn.
ASTM staff: Daniel Smith
Oct. 24-26, Atlanta, Ga., October Committee Week