Is Your Property a Controlled WRECk?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

This article is the first in a series that will explore the proposed changes to the new Phase I ESA standard.

This summer, ASTM will release a revision to the current Phase I environmental site assessment (ESA) standard. Many of the changes are clarifications of existing definitions and language; however, a few will require additional considerations by the environmental professional (EP) performing the Phase I.  

Key revisions to the standard include significant changes to the definitions of recognized environmental conditions (RECs), consideration of vapor migration, and regulatory file review requirements.  These additional considerations underscore the importance of open communication and understanding between the EP and the Phase 1 user regarding the nature of identified RECs, the potential for on- and off-site contamination to affect the subject property, the risks associated with identified property conditions, and the user’s tolerance for such risk. 

The new Phase I standard addresses the ever-growing number of risk-based closures by introducing a new type of REC known as a controlled recognized environmental condition, or CREC.  A CREC would be applied to sites where residual contamination exists after risk-based closure has been attained.  Under a conditional closure, the regulatory agency acknowledges that some contamination has been left at a property, but exposure is limited by placing land-use restrictions or other form of exposure control on the property.  Among other things, a CREC finding may require review of agency files to identify the level and location of contamination and reviewing requirements to maintain some form of exposure control; all of which may affect the value of or future plans for a property.

Other proposed changes to the new Phase I standard address the EP’s consideration of vapor migration and the condition of surrounding properties.  These proposed changes will be explored in a subsequent article.

Currently, the proposed revised standard is being reviewed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ensure its consistency with the All Appropriate Inquiries (AAI) rule.  Pending EPA approval, the new standard (E1527-13) is anticipated to be released in the summer of 2013 and will become effective immediately.