The ASTM E50 task group has been working since 2005 on revisions to ASTM E1527-05, Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process. The E50 task group consists of environmental consultants, lenders, attorneys, USEPA, and other interested parties. ASTM E1527-05 was last revised in 2005, and according to ASTM bylaws, standards must be updated and reissued every eight years to avoid sun-setting and becoming invalid.
Balloting within ASTM on the latest revisions closed on October 17, 2012. In general, the revisions to ASTM E1527-05 should not have a significant impact on the overall performance of Phase I ESAs. However, three major revisions to ASTM E1527-05 that have been approved by ASTM will impact the preparation of Phase I ESAs under ASTM 1527, which are also intended to satisfy the requirements of the CERCLA All Appropriate Inquiries (AAI) Rule:
- Recognized Environmental Condition (REC). The definition of a REC has been simplified and revised so that the definition of a REC, a Release, and the Environment will be consistent with CERCLA. In addition, the definition of a Historical REC has been modified and a new category of REC, Controlled Recognized Environmental Condition (CREC) has been created as follows:
- A HREC is where a property has been remediated in the past to achieve compliance with environmental regulations. A HREC will not be a REC under ASTM 1527. However, if the potential for vapor migration was not addressed during the remediation, the property could now become a REC under a Phase I ESA.
- A CREC is where a property also has been remediated in the past, but activity and land use (AUL) restrictions are in-place. An example of a CREC would be a site that has been issued a Certificate of Completion (COC) under the WV Voluntary Remediation Program (VRP) or a leaking underground storage tank (LUST) site that has used the risk-based closure option under WV’s Uniform Environmental Covenants Act (UECA) to obtain a No Further Action (NFA). At such sites, soil and groundwater remediation has been completed, but residual contamination is still present and the site has an AUL, e.g., land use covenant (LUC). Under the revisions to ASTM E1527, such a site will be a REC under a Phase I ESA.
- The potential for vapor migration as a REC will now be incorporated into the Phase I ESA process. Vapor migration will need to be evaluated as a potential migration pathway, just as the groundwater migration pathway has had to be addressed. Other vapor migration considerations include:
- Contaminant vapor migration/intrusion will be specifically excluded from the Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) limitation of services exclusion in ASTM E1527. This exclusion has been used by some Environmental Professionals to exclude evaluating the vapor migration pathway. This will no longer be permitted.
- ASTM E2600-10, Vapor Encroachment Screening Standard will now specifically be referenced as a guidance document for performing a vapor migration evaluation as part of a Phase I ESA.
- Performance of a vapor intrusion assessment, which can involve soil gas or indoor air sampling, will not be required as part of a Phase I ESA to meet the vapor migration assessment requirement.
- Regulatory Agency File Review. A new Section 8.2.2 will be added to ASTM E1527-05. Under this section, a review “should” be performed, but at the discretion of the Environmental Professional (EP) performing the Phase I ESA. If the EP does not perform a file review, the EP will be required to justify why a review was not performed. Reasons such as “information not publicly available or ascertainable within a reasonable time or at a reasonable cost” will be considered to be acceptable.
The final version of the E1527 Standard is anticipated to be published during 2013, pending USEPA approval and an update to the CERCLA All Appropriate Inquiries (AAI) Rule.
This article was authored by Greg Tieman, Acacia Environmental Group LLC. For more information on the author see here.