Print this page Print this page

EPA’s All Appropriate Inquiries Rule – CERCLA Defense

Jeffrey R. Sotek, PE, CSP, CIH

Course Outline

To assist clients obtain certain protections from liability under the Federal Superfund Law (CERCLA), licensed professional engineers must fully understand the EPA requirements and provisions contained in 40 CFR Part 312, “All Appropriate Inquiries” Rule.  “All Appropriate Inquiries” or AAI is a process of evaluating a property’s environmental conditions and assessing potential liability for any contamination. This three hour course will prepare engineers to be familiar with 40 CFR Part 312 regulations and to have a better understanding of the requirements and other regulatory provisions for preparing AAI Compliant Phase I report.

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course materials.

Learning Objective

At the conclusion of this course, the student will:

Intended Audience

This course is intended for civil and environmental engineers, engineering geologists and EHS professionals.

Course Introduction

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a final rule setting federal standards for the conduct of all appropriate inquiries. The rule was published in the Federal Register on November 1, 2005 and became effective November 1, 2006.   The regulation, under 40 Code of Federal Regulation (CFR) Title 40 Part 312, establishes specific regulatory requirements for conducting all appropriate inquiries into the previous ownership, uses, and environmental conditions of a property for the purposes of qualifying for certain landowner liability protections under CERCLA.

Prior to November 1, 2006, parties seeking defense against CERCLA can use ASTM E1527-97 or E1527-00 Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process.  However, as of November 1, 2006, parties must comply with the requirements of the All Appropriate Inquiries Final Rule, or follow the standards set forth in the ASTM E1527-05 Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process, to satisfy the statutory requirements for conducting all appropriate inquiries. All appropriate inquiries must be conducted in compliance with either of these standards to obtain protection from potential liability under CERCLA as an innocent landowner, a contiguous property owner, or a bona fide prospective purchaser.   The results of the inquiry must be documented in a written report that, at a minimum, includes the following: (1) An opinion as to whether the inquiry has identified conditions indicative of releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances and in certain cases pollutants, contaminants, petroleum and petroleum products, and controlled substances  on, at, in, or to the subject property.

Course Content

The 2002 Brownfields Amendments to the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA ) required EPA to promulgate regulations establishing standards and practices for conducting all appropriate inquiries.   In the interim EPA allowed interested parties seeking defense against CERCLA to use E1527-97 or E1527-00, ASTM’s Phase I Environmental Site Assessment practice. 

In this lesson, you will be directed to study:

Also, you will need to review two additional EPA documents, titled:

Please click on the above underlined hypertext to view, download or print the document for your study. Because of the large file size, we recommend that you first save the file to your computer by right clicking the mouse and choosing "Save Target As ...", and then open the file in Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Course Summary

To assess environmental conditions and liabilities associated with contamination of a property, licensed professional engineers must fully understand the EPA requirements and provisions contained in 40 CFR Part 312, All Appropriate Inquire Rule.  Through this online course, licensed professionals and EHS professionals can learn about the three parties who can potentially seek defense against CERCLA, learn how to assist clients with assessing the potential a property has for environmental contamination, and what components are necessary for an AAI compliant report.

Related Links

For additional information related to this subject, please visit the following websites or web pages:

EPA’s Brownfield and Land Revitalization


Once you finish studying the above course content, you need to take a quiz to obtain the PDH credits.

Take a Quiz

DISCLAIMER: The materials contained in the online course are not intended as a representation or warranty on the part of PDH Center or any other person/organization named herein. The materials are for general information only. They are not a substitute for competent professional advice. Application of this information to a specific project should be reviewed by a registered architect and/or professional engineer/surveyor. Anyone making use of the information set forth herein does so at their own risk and assumes any and all resulting liability arising therefrom.