Revised ASTM Phase 1 Standard To Be Reviewed by EPA

The ASTM task group that is responsible for finalizing the E1527 phase 1 standard has completed its final proof-reading and editorial changes. The revised standard will now go to EPA for approval.

If EPA blesses the changes( which we believe it will), the E1527-13 will become the equivalent for complying with the All Appropriate Inquiries (AAI) Rule.  Compliance with AAI is required for property owners or operators to be able to assert of one the CERCLA landowner liability protections (LLPs). Many states have adopted AAI for their own versions of CERCLA. Applicants for EPA brownfield grants are also  required to perform AAI.

ASTM periodically revises its standards. ASTM could have simply re-issued the existing standard but the task force felt some changes were required to respond to new developments as well as to address concerns that the quality of phase 1 reports had deteriorated since ASTM E1527-05 was issued. If in the unlikely event that EPA rejects changes, the existing standard will simply be reissued.

We chaired the legal subcommittee that revamped the legal appendix. We also headed the sub-group that prepared a Business Environmental Risk (BER) appendix. We cant share the text of the changes but some of the key changes are:

  • definition of REC was tweaked to make it more understandable to environmental consultants;
  • A new  term “Controlled REC” (CREC) was added which is intended to complement the HREC term. The latter applies to prior RECs that have been remediated to unrestricted cleanup levels while CREC applies to risk-based cleanups that have ongoing institutional or engineering controls;
  • creates a presumption that the environmental professional should perform a file review of agency records in determining the presence of a REC. If the environmental professional decides a file review is not required, it must explain why a file review was not performed;
  • the revised legal appendix clarifies scope of the CERCLA indoor air exclusion from definition of release and also discusses other CERCLA exclusions;
  • the revised legal appendix clarifies the role of that vapor intrusion in phase 1 reports (it is just like any other exposure pathway- (groundwater, air, soil). In most cases, there will be an underlying REC (contaminated groundwater or soil) that will already be a REC. However, there may be instances where there is an off-site source where there is potential for vapors to have laterally migrated through the soil gas to the subject property. In such an scenario, the potential for  Vapor intrusion could be a REC. However, determining if the pathway is completed will usually beyond scope of the phase 1unless otherwise specified by the client;
  • a new Business Environmental Risk (BER) appendix describes the BERs that are commonly encountered for commercial properties and discusses factors that may be considered in determining if a client wants to include BERs in the scope of the phase 1.
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