On December 30, 2013, EPA published a Final Rule providing that a prospective purchaser or tenant of contaminated property may use ASTM International’s recently updated version of its standard for environmental site assessments – Standard 1527-13 – to meet the standards and practices for “all appropriate inquiries,” as set forth in the Brownfields Amendments to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act and 40 C.F.R. Part 312. Parties meeting those standards may qualify for the innocent landowner, contiguous property owner, or bona fide prospective purchaser limitations on liability under CERCLA.

In the preamble to the December 30, 2013 Final Rule, EPA also announced its intention to publish soon for public comment a proposed rule to no longer acknowledge the prior version of ASTM’s site assessment standards, Standard E1527-05, as meeting the “all appropriate inquiries” requirement. In the meantime, both the prior and updated standards are acceptable.

The newest version of the ASTM Standard includes several changes from the prior version. For example, the definition of “Recognized Environmental Condition,” is clarified and a new term, “Controlled” Recognized Environmental Condition is included. In addition, the standard contains new provisions regarding vapor intrusion and vapor mitigation risks. There is also a greater emphasis on conducting regulatory file reviews, particularly with respect to adjacent properties.