Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process for Forestland or Rural Property
|Publication Date:||1 December 2016|
|ICS Code (Environmental management):||13.020.10|
Purpose-The purpose of this practice is to provide an alternative method to ASTM E1527 for good commercial and customary practice in the United States of America for conducting a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment2 of forestland or rural property with respect to the range of contaminants within the scope of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) 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 or 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.
Standard Practice Selection-The methodology included in this practice is an effective and practical process for achieving the objectives of a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment of forestland or rural property when some of the methodologies of ASTM E1527 are deemed to be impractical or unnecessary due to the size or nature of the property. This practice is intended to provide a more practical approach to assess rural and forestland properties that are generally uniform in use. A primary consideration in applying this practice instead of E1527 is the nature and extent of the property being assessed, as the typical environmental concerns, sources for interviews and records, and the methodology used to perform the site reconnaissance may differ significantly. The property to be assessed using this standard practice need not be contiguous and may contain isolated areas of non-forestland and non-rural property. Site reconnaissance of isolated areas of the property that include activities outside the definition of forestland or rural property should be addressed using methodologies such as those provided in E1527-13, which may be conducted and reported in conjunction with this practice, as discussed in section 4.5.3.
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. De minimis conditions are not recognized environmental conditions.
Related Standard Practices-This practice is closely related to Standard Practice E1527. Standard Practice E1527 is an environmental site assessment for commercial real estate (see 4.3).
Petroleum Products-Petroleum products are included within the scope of this practice because they are of concern with respect to many parcels of forestland or rural property and current custom and usage is to include an inquiry into the presence of petroleum products when doing an environmental site assessment of forestland or rural property. Inclusion of petroleum products within the scope of this practice is not based upon the applicability, if any, of CERCLA to petroleum products. (See Appendix X1 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 a 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 8.1.8 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 forestland or rural property, (2) to facilitate high quality, standardized environmental site assessments, (3) to provide a practical and reasonable standard practice for 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 (for example, threatened and endangered species and non-point source considerations) that may exist on a forestland or rural property that are beyond the scope of this practice, but may warrant discussion between the environmental professional and the user about a forestland or rural property 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 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 13 Sections and 5 appendixes. Section 1 concerns the Scope. Section 2 relates to Referenced Documents. Section 3, Terminology, contains definitions of terms not unique to this practice, descriptions of terms unique to this practice, and acronyms. Section 4 describes the Significance and Use of this practice. Section 5 provides discussion regarding activity and use limitations. Section 6 describes the 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 (see 1.3). 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 CFR 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 and should be supplemented by education, experience, and professional judgment. Not all aspects of this practice may be applicable in all circumstances. This ASTM standard practice does not necessarily represent 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 unique aspects. The word "standard" in the title means only that the document has been approved through the ASTM consensus process.