ASTM has revised the standard practice guidance for conducting Phase 2 Environmental Site Assessment (ASTM E1903 - 11 Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase II Environmental Site Assessment Process). The revised guidance provides practical procedures for further assessment of a commercial property with recognized environmental conditions (REC). It is intended to assist in the evaluation of known releases or likely release areas identified by the user or Phase II Assessor.
Some of the significant changes to the revised standard method include:
- Language to confirm that the Phase II Assessor does not provide legal or business advice
- Use of a scientific approach, which is a collaboration with the servicer provider and user
- Revision of “Assessor” definition to incorporate “Environmental Professional” definition
- Concept that assessment steps are to be implemented “in the manner and level of detail appropriate to achieving the objectives”
The revised standard practice is intended for use on a voluntary basis by parties who wish to evaluate known releases or likely release areas identified during a Phase I ESA. The practice does not address the evaluation of business environmental risks in light of data collected through the Phase II ESA. Such evaluation is a function of site- and transaction-specific variables, and of the user’s objectives and risk tolerance. However, this practice assumes that the Phase II ESA process will be planned and conducted with such variables in mind, and that the user will evaluate legal, business and environmental risks in light of known data relating to the particular site and transaction, and in consultation with legal and business advisors as well as the Phase II Assessor.
Likewise, ASTM E1903-11 does not define the threshold levels at which target analytes pose a concern of significance to the user. Users may apply this practice not only in light of applicable regulatory criteria and relevant liability principles, but also to meet self-defined objectives.
Regarding reliance on the Phase II, the revised ASTM standard does not define whether or to what extent any person other than the user may use or rely upon a Phase II ESA prepared for the user. The appropriateness of third party use or reliance is a contractual matter that should be addressed between user and Phase II Assessor.
ASTM E1903-11 lays out basic principles that are an integral part of the practice of conduct Phase II investigations, including the elimination of uncertainty, the significance of the failure to detect specific chemicals, the limitations of information, and the significance of possible analytical laboratory error.
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