Environmental site assessments (ESA) are reports prepared that identifies potential or existing environmental contamination liabilities. The analysis, often called an ESA, typically addresses both the underlying land as well as physical improvements to the property. A proportion of contaminated sites are “brownfield sites.” In severe cases, brownfield sites may be added to the National Priorities List where they will be subject to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund program. The actual sampling of soil, air, groundwater and/or building materials is typically not conducted during a Phase I ESA. The Phase I ESA is generally considered the first step in the process of environmental due diligence. Standards for performing a Phase I site assessment have been set forth by the US EPA and are based in part on the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) in Standard E1527-13.
A Phase I consists of five basic components: (1) a review of local, state, and federal government environmental records; (2) a review of historical sources pertaining to past site uses and environmental issues; (3) interviews with owners, occupants, and other individuals in regard to property history, property use, and environmental issues; (4) a site reconnaissance to identify present and past uses and recognized environmental conditions, if present; and (5) preparation of a written report describing the Phase I procedures, findings, and conclusions.
Following the completion of a Phase 1, if a site is considered contaminated, a Phase II environmental site assessment may be conducted following the scope of ASTM test E1903, a more detailed investigation involving chemical analysis for hazardous substances and/or petroleum hydrocarbons.
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