The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) updated its “Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process” in November of 2021 (ASTM E1527-21). A six-month review and comment period is about to end and the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has withdrawn a direct final rule which proposed the adoption of updated standards for property site assessments.
On March 14, 2022, the direct final rule was published which proposed amending the Standards and Practices for All Appropriate Inquires (AAI) to incorporate the new ASTM E1527-21 standard (the ‘Standard’). There was backlash from several groups, including but not limited to brownfield experts, environmental consultants, lawyers, and the U.S Chamber of Commerce for references to the soon to be outdated ASTM E1527-13 standards and the incorporation of per-and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) into the Standard. Complaints were also made that EPA was recognizing the E1527-21 standard while continuing to also recognize the older E1527-13 standard, which would create confusion and inconsistency in the marketplace.
Regarding PFAS, the point of contention is PFAS is still an emerging contaminant and is not currently listed as a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation & Liability Act (CERCLA) hazardous substance, and should therefore not be listed in the new Standard at this time.
JMS is following these developments closely and will make sure that due diligence work for our clients follows the most up to date standards so our clients remain protected.