by Jeri Massengill, CEO of Historical Information Gatherers and ASTM International E50.02 Subcommittee Chair

ASTM Update – E1528 Transaction Screen and E1527 Phase I Environmental Site Assessment
Despite the disruptions and challenges of the past year, ASTM task group calls have been a great way to keep in touch with colleagues and to keep abreast of the changes coming to environmental due diligence standards.

EBA member Georgina Dannatt of Bank of the West, and EBA affiliate member Julie Kilgore of Wasatch Environmental, were interviewed to learn about the proposed revisions. Georgina is co-chair of the task group revising E1528 Standard Practice for Limited Environmental Due Diligence: Transaction Screen Process.

Julie continues her 20+ years as chair of the task group currently updating the E1527 Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process.

E1528 – Standard Practice for Limited Environmental Due Diligence: Transaction Screen Process

• Complete overhaul of the Transaction Screen questionnaire
“The features and uses from each question are now listed separately and presented in a checklist-style format to be clearer and more logical. We did not remove any content, we just rearranged it.” notes Georgina. The task group has also removed the option to answer “unknown” in order to arrive at more accurate responses.

• Reformatting the guide to be more instructive
The main ‘how-to’ guide portion of the Transaction Screen has been completely revised and expanded to include more description of features and uses which closely follows the questionnaire. “The proposed changes are meant to make it more instructive, both for people using the standard to help guide their preparation of reports, and for the Users who commission the reports,” stated Georgina. She went on to explain “The changes are intended to help all parties better understand the requirements and correctly answer the questions.”

• New requirement for inclusion of supporting documentation
Georgina noted that while some Transaction Screen report preparers include supporting documentation in an appendix, many do not. As a lender and report reviewer, she endorses the task group’s proposal that requires supporting documentation to be appended to the report, or retained in the report preparer’s files. “If adopted,” stated Georgina, “access to the supporting documents will make the report reviewer’s job easier and faster.”

ASTM E1527-13 Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process

• Back to 1980 Search for Environmental Liens and AULs
“New language makes it clear that title research back to 1980 is required when searching recorded land title documents for Environmental Liens and/or Activity Use Limitations (AULs),” according to Julie. Explaining, Julie notes, “This new language has been proposed to address different interpretations of the existing language that have resulted in some title research, conducted by third parties, that does not cover the entire time period needed to identify environmental liens and AULs.”

• Historical Research Updates
Regarding the major revisions proposed in the Historical Research section of the standard, Julie noted, “New language clarifies that adjoining property uses must be researched, and also adds the requirement that four standard historical resources must be reviewed for the Subject Property and adjoining properties, if available: aerial photographs, topographic maps, city directories, and fire insurance maps. A lot of industry outreach has been conducted, and these revisions are intended to reflect current good commercial and customary practice.”