Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process
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Purpose—The purpose of this practice is to define good commercial and customary practice in the United States of America for conducting an environmental site assessment2 of a parcel of commercial realestate with respect to the range of contaminants within the scope of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) (42 U.S.C. §9601) and petroleum products. As such, this practice is intended to permit a user to satisfy one of the requirements to qualify for the innocent landowner, contiguous property owner, or bona fide prospective purchaser limitations on CERCLA liability (hereinafter, the "landowner liability protections," or "LLPs"): that is, the practice that constitutes all appropriate inquiries into the previous ownership and uses of the property consistent with good commercial and customary practice as defined at 42 U.S.C. §9601(35)(B). (See Appendix X1 for an outline of CERCLA's liability and defense provisions.) Controlled substances are not included within the scope of this standard. Persons conducting an environmental site assessment as part of an EPA
Brownfields Assessment and Characterization Grant awarded under CERCLA 42 U.S.C. §9604(k)(2)(B) must include controlled substances as defined in the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. §802) within the scope of the assessment investigations to the extent directed
in the terms and conditions of the specific grant or cooperative agreement. Additionally, an evaluation of business environmental risk associated with a parcel of commercial real estate may necessitate investigation beyond that identified in this practice (see Sections 1.3 and 13).
Recognized Environmental Conditions—In defining a standard of good commercial and customary practice for conducting an environmental site assessment of a parcel of property, the goal of the processes established by this practice is to identify recognized environmental conditions. The term recognized environmental conditions means 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. Deminimis conditions are not recognized environmental conditions.
Petroleum Products—Petroleum products are included within the scope of this practice because they are of concern with respect to many parcels of commercial real estate and current custom and usage is to include an inquiry into the presence of petroleum products when doing an
environmental site assessment of commercial real estate. Inclusion of petroleum products within the scope of this practice is not based upon the applicability, if any, of CERCLA to petroleum products. (See X188.8.131.52 for discussion of petroleum exclusion to CERCLA liability.)
CERCLA Requirements Other Than Appropriate Inquiries—This practice does not address whether requirements in addition to all appropriate inquiries have been met in order to qualify for the LLPs (for example, the duties specified in 42 U.S.C. §9607(b)(3)(a) and (b) and cited in Appendix X1, including the continuing obligation not to impede the integrity and effectiveness of activity and use limitations (AULs), or the duty to take reasonable steps to prevent releases, or the duty to comply with legally required release reporting obligations).
Other Federal, State, and Local Environmental Laws—This practice does not address requirements of any state or local laws or of any federal laws other than the all appropriate inquiries provisions of the LLPs. Users are cautioned that federal, state, and local laws may impose environmental assessment obligations that are beyond the scope of this practice. Users should also be aware that there are likely to be other legal obligations with regard to hazardous substances or petroleum products discovered on the property that are not addressed in this practice and that may pose risks of civil and/or criminal sanctions for non-compliance. Documentation—The scope of this practice includes research and reporting requirements that support the user's ability to qualify for the LLPs. As such, sufficient documentation of all sources, records, and resources utilized in conducting the inquiry required by this practice must be provided in the written report (refer to 8.1.9 and 12.2).
Objectives—Objectives guiding the development of this practice are (1) to synthesize and put in writing good commercial
and customary practice for environmental site assessments for commercial real estate, (2) to facilitate high quality, standardized environmental site assessments, (3) to provide a practical and reasonable standard practice for conducting all appropriate inquiries, and (4) to clarify an industry standard for all appropriate inquiries in an effort to guide legal
interpretation of the LLPs.
Considerations Beyond Scope—The use of this practice is strictly limited to the scope set forth in this section. Section 13 of this practice identifies, for informational purposes, certain environmental conditions (not an all-inclusive list) that may exist on a property that are beyond the scope of this practice,but may warrant consideration by parties to a commercial real estate transaction. The need to include an investigation of
any such conditions in the environmental professional's scope of services should be evaluated based upon, among other factors, the nature of the property and the reasons for
performing the assessment (for example, a more comprehensive evaluation of business environmental risk) and should be agreed upon between the user and environmental
professional as additional services beyond the scope of this practice prior to initiation of the environmental site assessment process.
Organization of This Practice—This practice has thirteen sections and five appendixes. Section 1 is the Scope.
Section 2 is Referenced Documents.
Section 3, Terminology, has definitions of terms not unique to this practice, descriptions of terms unique to this practice, and acronyms.
Section 4 is Significance and Use of this practice.
Section 5 provides discussion regarding activity and use limitations.
Section 6 describes User's Responsibilities.
Sections 7 – 12 are the main body of the Phase I Environmental Site Assessment, including evaluation and report preparation.
Section 13 provides additional information regarding non-scope considerations (see1.3). The appendixes are included for information and are not part
of the procedures prescribed in this practice. Appendix X1 explains the liability and defense provisions of CERCLA that will assist the
user in understanding the user's responsibilities under CERCLA; it also contains other important information regarding CERCLA, the Brownfields Amendments, and
this practice. Appendix X2 provides the definition of the environmental professional responsible for the Phase I Environmental Site Assessment, as required in the
"All Appropriate Inquiries" Final Rule (40 C.F.R. Part 312). Appendix X3 provides an optional User Questionnaire to assist the user and the environmental professional in gathering information from the user that may be material to identifying recognized environmental conditions. Appendix X4 provides a recommended table of contents and report format for a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment. Appendix X5 summarizes non-scope considerations that persons may want to assess. This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use. This practice offers a set of instructions for performing one or more specific operations. This document cannot replace education or experience and should be used in conjunction with professional judgment. Not all aspects of this practice may be applicable in all circumstances. This ASTM standard is not intended to represent or replace the standard of care by which the adequacy of a given professional service must be judged, nor should this document be applied without consideration of a project's many unique aspects. The word "Standard" in the title means only that the document has been approved through the ASTM consensus process.
2 All definitions, descriptions of terms, and acronyms are defined in Section 3. Whenever terms defined in 3.2 are used in this practice, they are in italics.