Site Assessment and Remediation FAQs

ESI's Wayne Misenar, E.P., Senior Scientist in our Jacksonville office answers our SAR divisions FAQs:

 

What is an Environmental Phase I? 

“A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) is an investigation into historical past, as well as current uses of a specific parcel or tract of land to identify possible sources of contamination on the site that may have resulted from either business practices or incidental uses.   The purpose of the investigation is to provide either property owners or prospective buyers, usually associated with intended or pending transactions involving the site, innocent land owner defenses in accordance with EPA accepted national standards to limit their liability.  A wide assortment of available historical records that typically date at least back to the 1940s are utilized by an Environmental Professional to formulate an opinion whether a Phase II ESA, including soil and/or groundwater testing, may be warranted to further determine presence or absence of possible contaminants of concern.  A Phase I ESA report is provided to document the steps taken in the investigation, the findings, and conclusions with recommendations for further actions, if any."

Are Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) required?  "Short answer…..NO.  There is no legal requirement. Longer answer…..There are no existing requirements that dictate the need for a Phase I ESA; however, most all lenders will require at least some level of assessment, usually a Phase I ESA to provide for their own protection and peace of mind.  Otherwise, the completion of a Phase I ESA simply provides an extra level of relatively low cost insurance protection against future liability." 

Are there any other forms of Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) besides just Phase I?    "Yes, for those that simply are interested in an extra level of peace of mind before entering into a business transaction involving the transfer of property where a lender is not requiring a Phase I ESA, a more cost effective means for possible contamination assessment includes a Records Search Risk Assessment (RSRA).  The RSRA, at usually about half the cost of a Phase I ESA, includes a desk top review of current regulatory agency database records as well as a review of all the historical research normally included in a standard Phase I ESA.  For a small additional fee an on-site reconnaissance of the property can also be included for an extra level of investigation."

What specific business risks are included in a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) investigation?    "The national standard used by any reputable Environment Professional (ASTM Standard Practice for Phase I Environmental Site Assessment E-1527-13) specifically includes petroleum products and hazardous materials as defined by EPA.    Other business risks that are not specifically included may be the presence of asbestos containing materials, mold or other indoor air quality issues, on-site wetlands, cultural or historic resources, threatened/endangers species, or compliance issues to name a few.  Any of these additional service tasks can be separately assessed by ESI staff upon request."

 

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