LAS will begin to perform its Phase I environmental site assessments (ESA) according to the new ASTM standard (ASTM E 1527-13) beginning January 1, 2014.

The current uncertainty involves the fate of the previous standard ASTM E 1527-05; i.e. whether it will be completely replaced by 1527-13, or whether it will remain on as a second “lower cost” alternative for satisfying the EPA’s All Appropriate Inquiry (AAI) rule.

The new standard was released by ASTM November 6, 2013, with an effective date of November 1, 2013, prior to the conclusion of the EPA’s final rulemaking. However, an EPA official sees the process as “procedural,” and has recommended that the new standard be adopted by consultants. She also acknowledged that there will be a transition period as projects in the pipeline commenced under the previous standard are completed. As for what other institutions, clients and consultants are doing, many consultants have switched over, but some are waiting for the AAI rule to be clarified by the end of the year, or in the early part of next year. For example, the SBA is waiting on the rule change before requiring use of 1527-13.

The new standard calls for an assessment of vapor migration potential, more in-depth governmental file review of the property and adjoining properties, refines the definitions of a “recognized environmental condition” and “historical recognized environmental condition,” and adds a new findings category “controlled recognized environmental conditions.” Some of the new tasks will add to the time necessary to complete the assessment.

Practically speaking, it’s been our belief that the extent and depth of our work has always exceeded the previous standard, so we are not seeing a significant change in our due diligence process. But more time will be spent in satisfying some of the new requirements.