Proposed new changes to the ASTM E1527

Posted on June 26th, 2013

Proposed new changes to the ASTM E1527

The ASTM E1527 – Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Practice was last revised in 2005. Currently the standard is under review for additional changes. The Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) scope of work is not anticipated to change significantly and many of the changes will provide clarification to some of the language. However, some of the changes could impact the way Phase I ESAs are conducted or written.

Some potential changes to ASTM E1527-13 standard include:

  • Clarifying Recognized Environmental Conditions (RECs)
    • The new ASTM Phase I definition has been simplified as “the presence or likely presence of any hazardous substances or petroleum products in, on, or at a property: (1) due to any release to the environment; (2) under conditions indicative of a release to the environment; or (3) under conditions that pose a material threat of a future release to the environment.”
  • Historical Recognized Environmental Condition (HREC) have been clarified
    • The proposed HREC definition is “a past release of any hazardous substances or petroleum products that has occurred in connection with the property and has been addressed to the satisfaction of the applicable regulatory authority or meeting unrestricted residential use criteria established by a regulatory authority, without subjecting the property to any required controls (e.g., property use restrictions, AULs, institutional controls, or engineering controls). Before calling the past release an HREC, the EP must determine whether the past release is a REC at the time the Phase I ESA is conducted (e.g., if there has been a change in the regulatory criteria). If the EP considers this past release to be a REC at the time the Phase I ESA is conducted, the condition shall be included in the conclusions section of the report as a REC.”
  • Controlled Recognized Environmental Condition (CREC) is expected to be added as new terminology
    • The proposed CREC definition is “a REC resulting from a past release of hazardous substances or petroleum products that has been addressed to the satisfaction of the applicable regulatory authority (e.g., as evidenced by the issuance of a NFA letter or equivalent, or meeting risk-based criteria established by regulatory authority), with hazardous substances or petroleum products allowed to remain in place subject to the implementation of required controls (e.g., property use restrictions, AULs, institutional controls, or engineering controls)… a CREC shall be listed in the Findings Section of the Phase I ESA report, and as a REC in the Conclusions Section of the…report.”
  • De minimis is also being clarified as nominal issues, such as petroleum staining on asphalt or concrete, and includes:
    • Conditions that do not represent a threat to human health or the environment;
    • Conditions that would not be subject to enforcement action if brought to the attention of the regulatory agency
  • Update of Findings and Conclusions sections to reflect the REC, HREC and CREC definitions
    • List in Findings:
      • Known or suspect RECs
      • CRECs
      • HRECs
      • De minimis conditions
    • List in Conclusions:
      • Known or suspect RECs
      • CRECs
  • Specific inclusion of Vapor Migration/Intrusion
    • New language has been added to the Standard which clearly states that vapor contaminant pathways need to be considered in the evaluation of RECs or other environmental concerns. This may mean you would have to identify properties up to 1/3 mile in key directions from the subject property as potential sources of vapor concerns.  That being said, it also clearly states that ASTM E2600-10: Standard Guide for Vapor Encroachment Screening on Property Involved in Real Estate Transactions is not a requirement of a Phase I ESA.
  • Specific regulatory file review requirements
    • The new Section 8.2.2 addresses Regulatory Agency File and Records Review.  This section of the ASTM Standard would indicate that if the target property or any adjoining property is identified in the government records search, then “pertinent regulatory files and/or records associated with the listing should be reviewed,” anda summary of the information obtained from the file review would need to be included in the Phase I report.  If, in the Environmental Professional’s (EP’s) opinion, a file review would not be warranted, the EP would need to provide justification in the Phase I report. This could add significant time and additional costs to a Phase I.
  • Revisions to User Responsibilities
    • Users are responsible for:
      • Environmental liens and activity and use limitations (AULs) which are commonly found in recorded land title records. Chain of title reports will not normally disclose environmental liens. If not provide by the User, the EP must still conducting a search of institutional control and engineering control registries in the EPs government records search.
      • Environmental liens and AULs, which are only recorded or filed in judicial records; must be searched.
      • The new standards have more instructive language regarding the requirements to disclose “commonly known” information about the property and any discrepancies with the purchase price and fair market value. Therefore, commonly known or reasonably ascertainable information within the local community about the property must be communicated to EP by the user. If user does not communicate to the EP this information it must be considered a data gap.
      • The user is required to ensure compliance with All Appropriate Inquiries (AAI)
  • Changes to appendices, especially the Table of Contents/Report Format Appendix and Legal Appendix
    • New Appendix discussing Non-Scope Business Environmental Risk Considerations
    • Completely re-written Legal Appendix (made more relevant)
    • Revisions to User Questionnaire Appendix
    • Simplified Recommended Table of Contents and Report Format Appendix


Rhea Grundman

Project Manager



1 –…/pdfs/…/TB—REC-HREC-CREC-Determinations.pdf EDR Insight March 27, 2013. EDR (Milford, CT)  


2-…/Rutgers_1527_13Revisions.pdf ASTM E 1527-13 Standard: Key Areas of Change by  Dianne P. Crocker, Principal Analyst, EDR Insight EDR (Milford, CT)  for presentation at: Rutgers Environmental Audits and Site Assessments Course  February 27, 2013

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