In the past, many properties were transferred with undisclosed contamination. The discovery of contamination on these properties often result in disputes over liability and escalated cleanup, as well as legal costs for all parties involved.
The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), developed by the Environmental Protection Agency, seeks to address this problem by requiring that "all appropriate inquiry into previous ownership and uses of a property" be determined prior to a property transaction.
We perform a wide range of environmental assessment services including preliminary investigations, subsurface investigations, and site remediation design and oversight.
What is "All Appropriate Inquiries"?
- “All Appropriate Inquiries,” or AAI is the process of conducting due diligence or a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment to determine prior uses and ownership of a property and assess conditions at the property that may be indicative of releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances at, on, in, or to the property. The standards and practices established as comprising “All Appropriate Inquiries” are set forth in regulations promulgated at 40 CFR Part 312.
- EPA recognizes two ASTM International Standards as compliant with the AAI requirements: ASTM E1527-05 “Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process” and E2247-08 “Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process for Forestland or Rural Property.”
When must All Appropriate Inquiries be conducted?
- All appropriate inquiries must be conducted or updated within one year prior to acquiring ownership of a property. Certain aspects or provisions (i.e., interviews of current and past owners, the review of government records, the on-site visual inspection, and searches for environmental cleanup liens) must be conducted or updated within 180 days prior to acquiring ownership of a property.
Who can perform All Appropriate Inquiries?
- The individual who supervises or oversees the conduct of the AAI investigation and signs the final report required in the AAI regulation must meet the definition of an “Environmental Professional” provided in the AAI Final Rule (40 CFR §312.10).
Phase II is the Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) which investigates recognized environmental conditions identified in an All Appropriate Inquiry (Phase I ESA). A Phase II Assessment may include collection and analysis of soil and groundwater samples for potential contaminants of concern on the property.
Phase III includes site remediation when necessary, which consists of evaluating environmental conditions found in the Phase II ESA and preparing a corrective action response. The plan may include the development of cleanup objectives and procedures, engineering controls and future land use restrictions to protect human health and the environment.