New Phase 1 Standard is Approved by ASTM Governing Body!

The ASTM E1527-21 is now official! It was approved  on November 1st after three years of development. I served as the co-chair of the legal sub-committee.

Among the changes:

  • Key terminology revisions: The terms “Recognized Environmental Condition” (REC); “Controlled Recognized Environmental Condition” (CREC); and “Historical Recognized Environmental Condition (HREC) have been strengthened to reduce misclassifications of known or likely hazardous material and petroleum product releases affecting subject properties. The revisions are further supported by a new appendix that provides guidance on the REC/HERC/CERC decision process, a flow chart, and representative examples of each.
  • New definitions: The terms “Property Use Limitation” (PUL); and “Significant data gap” have been formally defined to provide important clarification of existing concepts.
  • The historical records review section has been restructured and updated to reflect good commercial and customary practice. The revisions clarify subject and adjoining property identification, use, and research objectives; and new parameters have been established for the use of standard historical sources.
  • Detailed site reconnaissance requirements have been added to reinforce existing good commercial and customary practice.
  • Revised report requirements have been added to strengthen the deliverable, including consistent use of the term “subject property”; identification of RECs, CRECs, and significant data gaps in the Conclusion section; photos of site reconnaissance items; and a site map.
  • Updated appendices: Include an extensively revised legal appendix; new REC/HREC/CREC guidance; revised report outline; and updated discussion of business environmental risks including emerging contaminants.

Note that the definition of “Federal, State and Local Environmental Laws” now has a footnote explaining that users who wish to avail themselves of state liability defenses will need to determine if those states include PFAS or other emerging contaminants in the state definition of hazardous substance. If so, the footnote suggests that users may want to request that PFAS or the regulated emerging contaminant be included in the scope of the phase 1.

ASTM anticipates publishing the revised E1527-21 in December.  Both a clean copy and redlined copy of the revised standard are available  from the ASTM website at

EPA will be issuing a rulemaking to confirm that E1527-21 may be used to satisfy the All-Appropriate Inquires (AAI) rule. ASTM has submitted documentation needed to begin the formal EPA process for recognizing E1527-21.  It is anticipated that EPA will issue a proposed and interim final rule recognizing the revision standard.

It may be six months or more for EPA to formally recognize E1527-21.  So what should users and consultants do until EPA recognizes E1527-21? Here are three ideas:

  1. Continue using E1527-13 until EPA references E1527-21.
  2. Implement E1527-21 because nothing in “-21” is less stringent than “-13”.
  3. Continue to reference E1527-13 as compliant with EPA AAI, and add a phrase that the assessment also incorporates the procedures set forth in E1527-21.
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