March 10, 2017

How Do We Keep You From Buying a Toxic Radioactive Dump Site?

Thats easy – An Environmental Site Assessment Phase 1  

The Basics

A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (Phase I ESA) is the fundamental step in site acquisition and development. This report is prepared to help prospective owners and lending institutions understand environmental liability risks linked to the subject property.

Phase I environmental site assessment reports summarize a site reconnaissance, and records review of the subject property and neighboring properties within a specified radius to address any existing or potential recognized environmental conditions (RECs) and conclude whether additional environmental investigation is necessary. If additional environmental investigation is necessary, a Phase II environmental site assessment may be conducted. A Phase II ESA involves a more thorough investigation involving chemical analysis for hazardous substances.

Recognized Environmental Conditions (REC) may affect property value and/or limit land use. It is important to learn about the current, past and potential contamination of soil and groundwater to avoid costly regulatory mandated remediation (cleanup). The Phase I report also provides Landowner Liability Protection and may protect from civil suits resulting from human health exposure and contamination migration devaluating neighboring property values.

What happens during a Phase I ESA?

The main step in a phase 1 is the on-site visit to visually identify present and past conditions (chemical spills residue, storage tanks, chemical storage, affected vegetation, etc.) to determine the likelihood of a REC at the subject property. During the site visit, the professional assessor will visually inspect parts of a property for possible asbestos containing materials, identify mold growth and note other indoor air quality issues. The assessor will interview individuals knowledgeable in the subject property’s history. Individuals interviewed may include: current and past owners, site manager, maintenance technicians, tenants, and neighbors. Adjacent and neighboring properties (gas stations, manufacturers, chemical plants, etc.) that present environmental risks upon the subject property are also identified.

In addition to a site visit, additional investigation of public records is performed to review the site’s history to identify past environmentally hazardous conditions. Documents and files from federal, state, local and tribal records, USGS maps, historic aerial photography, public agencies, municipal and county planning commission, and chain-of-titles are reviewed to understand surrounding topography affecting water drainage patterns, learn about prior land usage, documented water and/or soil contamination issues, and other pertinent information that will help the assessor evaluate environmental risk. Most of these files/records can be obtained through information services, but others may need to be requested in person through local agencies. The variety of reports and information ordered or requested through third parties and local agencies requires a 15-20 business day average turnaround time for this report. Phase 1 ESA reports can be expedited and completed within 8-10 days.

You can read all about Phase 1 ESAs and other Frequently Asked Questions here.   Send us your questions – we are here to answer them.

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