Key Differences between All Appropriate Inquiries (AAI) and ASTM E 1527-00

The EPA specified ASTM E 1527-00 for Phase I Site Assessments as the designated “interim standards.” Since then ASTM issued the ASTM E 1527-05 which meets and surpasses the new regulations.

The key differences between All Appropriate Inquiries standard specification and the old ASTM E 1527-00 are summarized in the table below. 

CERCLA Background
Overview of All Appropriate Inquiries Requirements  for Phase 1 site assessments
AAI & ASTM E 1527-00: Key Points | Chart of Key Differences
AAI & New ASTM E 1527-05: Key Difference – Petroleum
Federal Register PDF Document: 40 CFR Part 312 Standards and Practices for All Appropriate Inquiries; Final Rule

Table 1. Key Differences between the Final All Appropriate Inquiries Regulation Specification and the Previous Specification Standard

Investigative Criterion AAI Specification November 1, 2006 Previous Specification (ASTM E1527-2000)
Definition of Environmental Professional Specific certification / license, education and experience requirements. No specifications
Interviews of current owner and tenants Mandatory. A “reasonable attempt” had to be made.
Interviews with former owners and occupants Interviews must be conducted to achieve the objectives and performance factors of the AAI and E-1527-05 § 312.20 (e-f) Not required, but must inquire about past uses of the subject property when interviewing current owner and occupants
Interview with neighboring or nearby property owners or occupants Mandatory at abandoned properties Discretionary
Review of Historic Sources: Period to be covered From the present to when the property first contained structures or was used for agricultural, residential, commercial or any other purpose. Formerly the historic investigation was to first use or 1940.
Records of Activity and Use Limitations (e.g., Engineering and Institutional Controls) and Environmental Cleanup Liens No requirement as to who is responsible for the search; however, results must be reported to the environmental professional. This was the user’s responsibility with results reported to the environmental professional.
Scope of environmental cleanup lien search includes those liens filed or recorded under federal, state, tribal or local law.
Government Records Review Records from Federal, State, Local and Tribal sources are to be investigated. Federal and State records were required with local records being at the discretion of the investigator.
Site Inspection Visual inspection of subject property and nearby properties is required; some exceptions are allowed if property cannot be visually inspected. No specific requirement to inspect nearby properties.
Contaminants of Concern For parties seeking CERCLA protection, the CERCLA hazardous substances are considered. CERCLA hazardous substances and petroleum products only.
Brownsfields Grant Recipients: CERCLA hazardous substances, petroleum and petroleum products, controlled substances.
Data Gaps Requires identification of sources consulted to fill data gaps and an explanation of why there are gaps and if they are significant. Historic investigation was subject to the discretion of the investigator and sources that produced no findings had to be documented
Shelf life of the Written Report One year with updates after 180 days. Updates of specified activities after 180 days.

CERCLA All Appropriate Inquiries compared to ASTM E 1527-05 Key Difference: Petroleum

The basic difference between CERCLA All Appropriate Inquiries and the new ASTM E 1527-05 is the extent of the definition of hazardous substances. Under the petroleum exclusion of CERCLA Section 9601(14), petroleum and crude oil have been explicitly excluded from the definition of hazardous substances. However, ASTM E 1527-05 includes petroleum products  because they are of concern in many commercial real estate transactions and current custom and usage is to include an inquiry into the presence of petroleum products in an environmental site assessment.

As noted above, the State of California now recognizes the Innocent Landowner Protection, the Contiguous Landowner Protection and the Bonafide Purchaser Protection. Thus, while CERCLA does not include petroleum products, that omission is picked up by the State of California.