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Phase I ESA Getting a Facelift

The new Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments is ASTM E1527-13 which will qualify with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as All Appropriate Inquiry.  Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (PIESA) could be going through the most significant change in years. Let’s go over some definitions first.  If your site is contaminated or a nearby site has the potential to contaminate your site then your site has a Recognized Environmental Condition or REC.  The new definition of a REC is “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 tat pose a material threat of future release to the environment”.  A Historic Recognized Environmental Condition, HREC, is a site that had some type of contamination but it has been remediated and there are no restrictions on the use of the property. A Conditional Recognized Environmental Condition, CREC, is a site that has had remediation but there are ongoing conditions such as ground water monitoring, engineering controls implemented to contain the contamination,  or deed restrictions on the property related to the contamination.  Something that is considered diminimus is not considered a REC.

Here are some of the areas that have been clarified or modified.  Although not expressly stated in the previous version of the ASTM standard (E1527-5), the potential for the migration of vapors was included in this standard.  The definition of migrate/migration now specifically includes vapor as a form for contaminant transport of hazardous substance or petroleum products. Therefore if your property is near a dry cleaning business, the Environmental Professional (EP) should evaluate your site for the potential for vapor contamination.

Your site will be designated a REC in the current condition if it is a former CREC or is it located within the possible pollution plume of an adjacent contaminated site. Remember a PIESA does not include any sampling.  In addition the EP could designate your site as a REC if the HREC is not old enough  to meet standards today due to changes in the cleanup standards. Therefore, the EP must not only be aware of the current cleanup standards, but they must also be familiar with past cleanup standards for which to compare.

This new standard also states that government records “should be reviewed”.  With the clarification of what is a REC, it is extremely important for the EP to review government records. The new standard requires the EP to justify why government records were not reviewed.  If the site has the restriction that only industrial/commercial development is allowed due to past conditions then it is now a CREC.

It is always important to select a consultant who understands and applies the regulations properly, and has the experience and expertise to evaluate the site and properly identify a REC or CREC.  The PIESA should not be a loss leader by consultants.  Let Clementi Environmental Consulting help you protect your interests.