Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA)

A Phase I ESA is the first step in the process of Environmental Due Diligence (EDD). It is a report prepared by an Environmental Professional for a real estate holding which identifies potential or existing environmental contamination liabilities and is completed for commercial or industrial properties. It is conducted to provide a “safe harbor” for the purchaser, operator, lessee and/or lender known as the “Innocent Landowner Defense.” The information collected is as follows then written into a Phase I report

  • Interviews with past and present owners, a site manager, current occupants and neighbors
  • Evaluation of risks of neighboring properties upon the subject property
  • Review of historical sources of information, e.g., historical fire insurance maps,
    historical aerial photos
  • Reviews of federal, state, tribal and local government records out to distances of
    1/8 mile to 1 mile
  • File searches of public agencies: state water board, fire department,
    county health department, etc.
  • Commonly known or reasonably ascertainable information
  • Examine current USGS maps scrutinizing drainage and topography
  • Assessments of any specialized knowledge or experience of the prospective landowner
  • Examine chain of title for activity and land use limitations and environmental liens
  • Assessment of the relationship of the purchase price to the fair market value of the property, if the property were not contaminated

Once collected, the Environmental Professional (EP) will determine if there are recognized environmental conditions on the property (RECs). If so, the EP will suggest that the RECs be resolved with a Phase II ESA.

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Phase II Environmental Site Assessment (ESA)

A Phase II is conducted on site-specific property when Recognized Environmental Conditions (RECs) have been found during the course of a Phase I ESA. The Phase II is very site-specific and the soil and/or ground water sampling can vary widely depending on the geography and samples required. Sampling methods include grab sampling, surface soil sampling, direct-push Geoprobe sampling and hollow-stem auger drill rig sampling. Samples are sent to a lab and tested for volatile organic compounds (VOCs), polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PNAs) and metals. When these are discovered and they are less than the Generic Residential Cleanup Criteria (GRCC) as specified in each state, the Phase II is complete. If it is above that amount, either remediation of the property is next, or as is the case within MI, a Baseline Environmental Assessment is completed along with a Due Care Plan/Continuing Obligations (DCP/CO). In accordance with ASTM1527-13, Vapor Intrusion Assessment will be included in the Phase II ESA

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