ASTM International issued a revised version of E1527 Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process in November 2013.  Omni Environmental Group has compared the new Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) standard to the 2005 Phase I ESA standard and the following are the 3 key revisions to the standard:

  1. The purpose of a Phase I is to evaluate a property for the presence or likely presence of petroleum products or hazardous substances under conditions that indicate an existing release, a past release or a material threat of a release.  In the past, there have been different interpretations whether potential migration of vapors is a release and included within the scope of the Phase I ESA.  The new revisions define “migrate” and “migration” to include the movement of petroleum products and hazardous substances in any form, including vapor in the subsurface.  The Phase I revisions serve to clarify that vapor migration onto a property constitutes a “release” within the meaning of the Phase I ESA standard.  It’s important to note, however, that the Phase I ESA standard does not require identification or evaluation of vapor intrusion (i.e., the migration of vapors into a building) but only vapor migration onto the subject property.
  2. The new revision to the Phase I ESA standard requires the Environmental Professional to review applicable local, state or federal records if the environmental database summary report indicates such records are present for the subject property or for an adjoining property.  If the Environmental Professional believes such a review is not necessary, perhaps the type of record is not likely to change the outcome or the record is not reasonably ascertainable, then the Environmental Professional must include the justification for not reviewing the records in the Phase I report.
  3. The revised standard establishes a new “controlled” Recognized Environmental Condition (or CREC) and revises the definition of the existing historic Recognized Environmental Conditions (or HREC).  HRECs include properties where site remediation has occurred and the environmental case “closed” where the closure allows unrestricted property use.  CRECs include properties where contamination is present but future exposure to the contamination is controlled through an activity and use limitation or deed restriction.

The revised standard generally contains modest changes intended to clarify ambiguities and unclear language in the 2005 Phase I ESA standard and to provide more consistent reports from different providers of Phase I Environmental Site Assessments.  Omni Environmental Group will elaborate on the practical effect of these 3 key changes in a future post.

If you have any questions about how these changes may affect environmental due diligence for your property, please contact Omni Environmental Group at 978-256-6766 or