New Phase I ESA Standard: ASTM E1527-21

Site -assessment -2

On November 1, 2021, ASTM International released a new standard, E1527-21, for Phase I environmental site assessments (ESAs).  This will replace the previous standard (E1527-13) and includes the following significant changes:

Expanded Scope of Historical Research

The 2013 standard stated that the environmental consultant was only required to review as many historical sources as needed to identify historical uses of the property and adjoining properties.  The new standard requires that all of the following four resources must be used for identifying the historical uses of the subject property and adjoining properties:

If the use of the subject property is industrial, manufacturing, or retail, additional resources including building department records, property tax files, interviews, and zoning information may be needed to adequately address the subject property.  The review of additional resources may also be necessary for the identification of the historical uses of adjoining properties if the standard resources are not sufficient.  This determination will be at the discretion of the Environmental Professional (EP).

Revised Definitions and Guidance for Classifying Recognized Environmental Conditions (RECs)

While their original meanings remain unchanged, the definitions of REC, Controlled REC (CREC), and Historical REC (HREC) have been updated for clarity.  Additionally, the new standard includes an appendix, which contains a flow chart for assisting in determining if a subject property condition constitutes a REC, HREC, or CREC.

Shelf Life of a Phase I ESA Report

The new Phase I standard clarifies that the Phase I report remains viable if it was completed within 180 days prior to the date of the subject property acquisition or up to one year if five specific components of the report have been updated.  The five components include:

The dates of completion for each component are required to be stated in the Phase I report.

Emerging Contaminants

New contaminants of concern, particularly per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), are under consideration for possible regulation as a hazardous substance by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA).  As they have not yet been classified as such, the new standard has added PFAS and other emerging contaminants to the list of “non-scope” issues that can be addressed if the user of the Phase I ESA wishes.

The new standard has been submitted to the USEPA for review and is expected to be adopted in 2022 as part of the All-Appropriate Inquiries (AAI) rule.