When a company wishes to purchase commercial real estate, whether with existing structure or vacant land, a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) should be performed to ensure Environmental Due Diligence on behalf of the owner and/or lender. The ESA report would indicate the likelihood of environmental liabilities being present based on the historical or present use of the property.
For example, underground storage tanks or cross contamination from an adjacent site could be examples of issues discovered during a Phase I ESA. These dangerous materials could cause risks to public health and safety if the property was redeveloped and the materials were not properly handled. In addition to the risks to public health & safety , there is a chance of significant financial risk to the property owner.
The ESA should be performed utilizing the most up-to-date version of the ASTM standard. Using the old standard (ASTM E1527-05) could result in an incorrect interpretation of the site assessment, which could then lead to increased liabilities for the buyer/lender, making the environmental liabilities associated with the property significantly greater.
The updated guidelines were renamed ASTM E1527-13. However, because ASTM E1527-13 has not yet been finalized as acceptable for All Appropriate Inquiries (AAI), ASTM E1527-05 has not been dissolved. Until ASTM E1527-13 is finalized, likely by the end of 2013, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) is allowing consultants to utilize either standard for Phase 1 site assessments, which could cause confusion and inaccurate assessment results.
The most significant changes to the Phase 1 ESA standards include:
- New definitions for more specific Standards of assessment
- Revised definitions for improved understanding of requirements
- New references to other Standards
- New language to reflect mandatory actions
- A revised and rewritten Legal Appendix that is easier to understand
- Clarification of what to include in the Findings and Conclusions reports
Essel Environmental Consulting is the best choice to perform Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessments under the new guidelines. Their knowledge of the new ASTM E1527-13 standards allows a more efficient Environmental Due Diligence process and a more accurate site assessment deliverable. Have a question? 800-595-7616
Pennsylvania Brownfields and Environmental Law
Environmental Data Resources Webinar Presentation, April 25, 2013