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Latest Revision to ASTM Environmental Site Assessment Standard Utilized in EPA Final Rule

E1527 Describes Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment Process

On Dec. 30, 2013, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published a final rule that utilizes the latest version of ASTM International standard E1527-13, Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process, in the performance of “all appropriate inquiries” when conducting environmental site assessments.

The EPA’s final rule, which went into effect on publication, amends the all appropriate inquiries rule in 40 CFR Part 312 to reference E1527-13 in order to make clear that persons conducting all appropriate inquiries under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act may use the procedures included in the recently revised E1527-13 to comply with the AAI rule.

ASTM standard E1527 describes the Phase I ESA process, which is used in conducting research to identify the potential for releases of hazardous substances or petroleum products that could lead to liability for new property owners if not identified, evaluated, addressed and properly managed.

According to the Federal Register notice, “Parties potentially affected by this action are those who may choose to use the newly referenced ASTM standard to perform all appropriate inquiries and include public and private parties who, as bona fide prospective purchasers, contiguous property owners or innocent landowners, are purchasing potentially contaminated properties and intend to claim a limitation on CERCLA liability in conjunction with the property purchase.”1 Other impacted parties include those conducting site characterization or assessment with a brownfields grant. With this ruling, the EPA still permits use of the previous version of the standard, E1527-05.

Approved on Nov. 6, 2013, by ASTM International Committee E50 on Environmental Assessment, Risk Management and Corrective Action, the latest revision of E1527 clarifies language where there was inconsistency in interpretation and strengthens the deliverable produced at the end of the Phase I ESA process. Among the latest revisions are updates to definitions of Recognized Environmental Condition and Historical Recognized Environmental Condition. A new term, controlled recognized environmental condition (CREC), has been added to the standard; it refers to a past release that has been addressed but allows contamination to remain in place subject to the implementation of required controls.

Reference

1. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Amendment to Standards and Practices for All Appropriate Inquiries Under CERCLA,” 40 CFR Part 312, Federal Register, Vol 78, No. 250, Dec. 30, 2013, found here.

This article appears in the issue of Standardization News.