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

RI Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Handbook Revised

October 2nd, 2014

Soil ErosionAfter 25 years, the Rhode Island Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Handbook has finally been revised.  When the first handbook was published in 1989 “Field of Dreams” and “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” were in theaters, Milli Vanilli was on the radio, George H.W. Bush was elected president, and only birds could “tweet”.  A lot has changed since then including available technology, best management practices, and regulatory policy associated with soil erosion and sediment control.  Therefore, in 2012 a Technical Review Committee was formed to update the outdated handbook.  The revised handbook, which has nearly doubled in length, is much more comprehensive and relevant to today’s standards.

You will be directly affected by the revisions if you are planning just about any kind of development.  Most development projects require the preparation of a Soil Erosion and Sediment Control Plan to reduce soil erosion and prevent sediment from washing into water bodies and clogging storm drains.  Some of the changes include:

  • A site constraint map illustrating storm drains, water bodies, wetlands, soil types, steep slopes, and more is now required.
  • A map of existing soil resources must be prepared.  Map preparation will require the excavation of four foot deep test holes throughout the property and documentation by a soil scientist.
  • Stormwater runoff flow rates and volume must be controlled during construction with temporary measures.
  • New measures such as straw wattles, compost tubes, and compost berms are included.  Hay bales are discouraged.
  • Temporary structural control measures may be required to divert run-on.

Contact us if you are planning to develop or regrade a property.  We’re happy to answer any questions.

Blog post written by Jason Gold, P.E.

photo credit: bertknot via photopin cc