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August 27, 2013
EPA references revised AAI process

In an amendment to the federal all appropriate inquiries (AAI) standard, the EPA has updated its regulatory reference to a widely used document issued by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM)   International.  Specifically, the Agency is replacing its reference at 40 CFR 312.11 to ASTM’s 2005 Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process (ASTM E1527-05) with ASTM’s 2013 version of the same standard practice, E1527-13. 

According to the Agency, E1527-13 is similar to ASTM E1527-05 in format, process, and areas of coverage. 
“However, the revision provides clarifications and additional guidance for the environmental assessment of commercial properties and determining whether or not there are recognized environmental conditions indicative of releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances at a property,” says the EPA.

11 changes

In a summary document, the EPA says E1527-13 includes 11 changes when compared to E1527.

  • Updated definition of recognized environmental condition (REC), specifically “the presence or likely presence of any hazardous substances or petroleum products in, on, or at a property due to release to the environment; under conditions indicative of a release to the environment; or under conditions that pose a material threat of future release.”
  • Updated definition of historical recognized environmental condition (HREC).  The definition was revised to clarify that the scope and application of an HREC is limited to include only past releases that have been addressed for unrestricted residential use.
  • Added a definition of controlled recognized environmental condition (CREC).  This definition was added to further clarify that “HRECs describe conditions where past releases were addressed at a property to the level of allowing for unrestricted residential use.” 
  • Added a clarification for de minimis condition.  The revision makes it clear that environmental professionals should not use this term to describe a CREC.
  • Revised the definition of migrate/migration to specifically include vapor migrations.
  • Revised the definition of release to clarify that the definition has the same meaning as the definition of release in CERCLA).
  • Revised the definition of environment to clarify that the definition has the same meaning as the definition of environment in CERCLA.
  • Revised the scope of the User Responsibilities section (Section 6) to clarify which aspects of the site assessment investigation may be the responsibility of the user, prospective property owner, or the user’s chosen representative and not necessarily the responsibility of the environmental professional.
  • Added guidance at Section 8.2.2, Regulatory Agency File and Records Review, to provide a standardized framework for verifying agency information related to information obtained from key databases.
  • Revised language in Section 12.8 (Conclusions) to allow some flexibility with regard to the wording of the conclusion statement provided by an environmental professional as part of the assessment report’s conclusion statement.
  • Updated information in the standard’s non-binding appendices. Appendices are provided for background information only.

Other standards OK

The Agency notes that the change in the regulatory reference does not require any party to use the ASTM E1527-13 standard.  Any party conducting AAI to comply with CERCLA’s bona fide prospective purchaser, contiguous property owner, and innocent landowner liability protections may continue to follow the provisions of the AAI final rule at 40 CFR Part 312, use the ASTM E1527-05 standard, or use the ASTM E2247-08 standard.

EPA’s final rule incorporating E1527-13 was published in the August 15, 2013, FR.

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