In November 2021, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) released a revised standard practice, E 1527-21, for Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs). The ASTM E1527-21 standard was intended to reflect current industry standards, and clarify the practice to provide greater consistency for both consultants and end-users. While the majority of the items in the new standard were already part of VERTEX’s standard environmental due diligence practice, the new standard provides helpful clarifications that reflect the current state of the industry.
EPA initially published a Direct Final Rule in March 2022 that confirmed the new ASTM standard, ASTM E 1527-21, could be used to satisfy the Environmental Protection Agency’s (USEPA’s) All Appropriate Inquiries (“AAI”) regulations. However, in May 2022, the EPA withdrew the Final Rule following the comment period, and indicated they would address the comments in a revised rule.
In a Notice of Final Rule published December 15, 2022, the EPA amended its AAI regulation (40 C.F.R. Part 312) to recognize the ASTM E 1527-21 “Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process” standard as meeting the AAI Rule’s requirements. The Final Rule will become effective on February 13, 2023.
The Final Rule also notes that ASTM E 1527-13 can still be used to satisfy the requirements for conducting all appropriate inquiries under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) for up to one year following publication of the Final Rule, at which point the standard will sunset, and will no longer be recognized by the EPA as satisfying AAI.
While VERTEX has been preparing Phase I ESA reports in accordance with the existing ASTM and AAI standards and the updated ASTM E 1527-21 standard since the release of the updated standard in late 2021, the formal recognition of the new standard by EPA marks the final stage in VERTEX’s adoption of the updated standard. As a leader in the Due Diligence industry, VERTEX is excited by the increased clarity of the new ASTM E 1527-21 standard, which has been designed to improve ESA reports, clarify industry practices, and provide a clearer end product for users.