Northeast Engineers | Blog

Out with the Old, In with the New

November 18th, 2014

If you are still not using the new ASTM standard for Phase I Environmental Site Assessments, E1527-13, now is the time to start.  In just under one year the older standard, E1527-05, will not be considered “AAI Compliant” by the EPA.  Furthermore, the SBA recently revised its policy to require the new standard.

1527-13 graphic

In December of last year the EPA deemed both E1527-05 and -13 to be AAI compliant.  However, on October 6, 2014, the EPA amended the All Appropriate Inquiries (AAI) rule to remove reference to ASTM E1527-05.  This amendment was made to reduce confusion associated with reference to a standard no longer supported by ASTM. The new rule won’t take effect for one year so there’s no need to worry if you have recent or ongoing assessments based on the 2005 standard.  The delayed effective date is intended to provide time to wrap up ongoing assessments.  Going forward, all new AAI compliant assessments should be completed using the -13 standard.

Consistent with the EPA, the SBA revised its policy for lender and development company loan programs (SOP 50 10 5(G) ) as of October 1, 2014.  The revised policy replaces references to the -05 standard with the -13 standard.

Of course you can continue to use the -05 standard (or any scope of work) for transactions where you’re not looking for the liability protection that comes with an AAI compliant assessment and the SBA is not involved.  However, the -13 standard was developed for a reason.  There are several advantages over the old standard including an emphasis on vapor assessment, file reviews, and use restrictions. I described these changes in an earlier blog.

Contact us with any questions and when you need a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment.

Blog post written by Jason Gold, P.E.



Redeveloping Agricultural Properties – New RIDEM Policy

October 3rd, 2014

Agricultural LandThe RIDEM recently published Guidelines for the Management of Historically Agricultural Properties for Future Use as Open Space and/or Recreational Land (Policy Memo 2014-01). The intent of the policy is to ease the burden and streamline the approval process for agricultural properties to be converted to open space or recreational land.  This is a welcome relief for developers, municipalities, and land trusts developing reuse plans for agricultural land.  The new policy was developed in cooperation with RISEP, the RI Society of Environmental Professionals.  (I had the privilege of contributing to the policy development alongside the many dedicated professionals in the RISEP Regulatory and Legislative Subcommittee.)

Certain substances, particularly arsenic and the pesticide dieldrin, are commonly found on agricultural sites at reportable concentrations. Challenges arise when farm land is redeveloped for preservation as open space or a recreational field.  Concentrations of substances typical of agricultural use above the Direct Exposure Criteria necessitate extensive and costly remediation. The new policy provides the majority of the large, historically agricultural sites with economically viable options while remaining protective of human health and the environment.

Based on a study of analytical data collected from agricultural sites throughout Rhode Island, the RIDEM concluded that sites with jurisdictional releases of certain Agricultural Constituents of Concern (arsenic, lead, dieldrin, and chlordane) as a result of historic agricultural activities can be managed through the new policy.  The policy includes prescribed sampling requirements, investigation procedures, and remedial options that will streamline the site investigation and closure process.  The remedial options are intended to be cost effective while remaining protective of human health and the environment.

Contact us for more information if you are planning to redevelop an agricultural property.  We will explain in further detail how you can benefit from the new policy.


Blog post by Jason Gold, P.E..

photo credit: Jerry7171 via photopin cc

Updated Environmental Due Diligence Standards

April 18th, 2014

Two of the ASTM standards frequently referenced when conducting environmental due diligence have recently been updated; those for both Phase I ESAs and for Environmental Transaction Screens.  The Phase I ESA process and the Transaction Screen process are markedly different. It is important to understand how they differ.  The two standards are compared in the table below.

Phase I ESA vs. Transaction Screen
Consideration Phase I ESA Transaction Screen
Constitutes “All Appropriate Inquiry” Yes No
Conclusions “the presence or likely presence” of oil or hazardous materials. (Recognized Environmental Condition) “the possible presence” of oil or hazardous materials. (Potential Environmental Concern)
Level of expertise Environmental Professional Anyone who can “satisfy themselves that they are qualified”.
Scope of work Public records review, detailed evaluation. Cursory evaluation

Transaction Screens are generally reserved for low risk properties only. Phase I ESAs are conducted on moderate to high risk properties and for transactions where CERCLA Landowner Liability Protections are desired.


Environmental Transaction Screen

ASTM E1528-14, “Standard Practice for Limited Environmental Due Diligence: Transaction Screen Process”, was just published in February.  (I was grateful for the opportunity to contribute to this revision process as a member of the ASTM task group.  It was an exciting opportunity!)  Like the updated Phase I standard, the updated Transaction Screen standard will result in a better product for the client.  One key change is the inclusion of aerial photographs as a historical research source.

The previous Transaction Screen Process listed only fire insurance maps and local street directories as historic sources to be reviewed.  Aerial photographs have been added to that list.  Aerial photographs are generally available where other sources are not and are available at no cost in Rhode Island.  In addition, the criteria for reviewing more than one source has been improved.  Previously preparers were only required to review one source if it provided any information.  The new standard requires the review of additional sources until sufficient information is found.


Phase I Environmental Site Assessments

E1527-13, “Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process”, was published last November and formally incorporated into the USEPA’s All Appropriate Inquiry (AAI) rule in December. The new standard includes several key changes such as:

  • An emphasis on vapor encroachment and regulatory file reviews;
  • Revised definitions of Historical Recognized Environmental Conditions (HREC) and Recognized Environmental Conditions (REC);
  • The introduction of a new term – the Controlled Recognized Environmental Condition (CREC).

I summarized these changes in an earlier blog.


Contact us if you would like more information or to schedule an educational presentation.

Blog post by Jason Gold, P.E.


Coming Soon… Revised Phase I ESA Standard (E1527-13)

October 7th, 2013

ASTM E1527-13 Update

The updated ASTM standard for Phase I ESA’s will likely be published next month.

I posted this blog in June summarizing the proposed changes in the new ASTM standard for Phase I Environmental Site Assessments, E1527-13.  In August, the EPA issued a proposed rule recognizing that E1527-13 may be used to satisfy the requirements for conducting All Appropriate Inquiries (AAI) under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).  Some objections were submitted during the public comment period which ended on September 16, therefore, the EPA must now consider and respond to these comments. According to Julie Kilgore, chair of the ASTM committee responsible for developing the new standard, ASTM is expected to publish the final version of E1527-13 next month with the EPA following in early 2014.  EDR recently hosted an informative webinar on the topic that Dianne Crocker summarizes in more detail in her blog.

If you’re not prepared for the revised standard now is the time.  Contact us if you would like more information or to schedule an educational presentation.

Blog post by Jason Gold, P.E.


Office of the Comptroller Emphasizes Environmental Risk

September 24th, 2013

Env credit riskThe Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) has published a new “Commercial Real Estate Lending” (CREL) booklet of the Comptroller’s Handbook.  The revised booklet includes updated statutory and regulatory developments in environmental risk management.

The booklet provides much more guidance related to environmental risk. The CREL booklet states “Environmental contamination may negatively affect the value of real property collateral as well as create potential liability for the bank under various environmental laws. Therefore, the bank’s loan policy should establish a program for assessing the potential adverse effect of environmental contamination and ensure appropriate controls to limit the bank’s exposure to environmental liability associated with real estate taken as collateral.”
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