When purchasing commercial real estate, one should perform due diligence to discover potential for contamination at the property. This is usually performed via a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA). The standard practice that outlines the requirements for how a Phase I ESA must be conducted has been updated, and the grace period for use of the old standard sunsets on February 13, 2024.

ASTM E1527-13 will no longer satisfy all appropriate inquiry (AAI) requirements as of February 13, 2024. The new standard that will satisfy AAI requirements is ASTM E1527-21. (Source: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2022/12/15/2022-27044/standards-and-practices-for-all-appropriate-inquiries)

What is All Appropriate Inquiry?

Any party who wants to claim protection from liability under one of CERCLA’s landowner liability protections may follow the regulatory requirements of the All Appropriate Inquiries Rule at 40 CFR part 312.

A Phase I ESA performed under the ASTM E1527-21 standard practice by a qualified Environmental Professional will satisfy the AAI requirements. The following components of the all appropriate inquiries must be conducted or updated within 180 days of and prior to the date of acquisition of the subject property:

(1) Interviews with past and present owners, operators, and occupants;

(2) Searches for recorded environmental cleanup liens;

(3) Reviews of federal, tribal, state, and local government records;

(4) Visual inspections of the facility and of adjoining properties; and

(5) The declaration by the environmental professional.

ESE Partners has qualified Environmental Professionals with experience conducting Phase I ESAs under ASTM E1527-21 and other types of environmental due diligence.