A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) is a report prepared for a real estate holding that identifies potential or existing environmental contamination liabilities. The study, also called an ESA, typically addresses both the physical improvements to the property and underlying land. The Phase I ESA is generally considered the first step in the process of environmental due diligence. A variety of actions can cause a Phase I ESA study to be performed for a commercial property, the most common being:
- Contemplation by a lender to provide a loan on the subject real estate.
- Purchase of real property by an entity not previously on title.
- Partnership buyout or principal reorganization of ownership.
- Application to a public agency for change of use.
- Existing property owner’s desire to understand environmental history of the property.
The ESA focuses on identifying activities that might suggest the potential for the presence of hazardous substances, therefore, it is tailored to assess variables such as property location, past uses, existing conditions, and potential future use. Phase I ESA activities include but are not limited to the following:
- Physical Site Inspection
- Environmental and Regulatory Data Review
- Historical Data Review
- Owner/Operator, Key Site Personnel, Manager Interviews
- Preparation of Site Maps
- Potential Liability and Regulatory considerations
- Report of Findings
Champion Environmental has conducted Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) for numerous commercial entities, industrial clients and financial institutions. Standards for performing a Phase I ESA have been promulgated by the US EPA and are based in part on ASTM Standard E1527-13 and EPA All Appropriate Inquiry (AAI 40 CFR Part 312). The actual sampling of soil, air, groundwater and/or building materials is typically not conducted during a Phase I ESA. If a site is considered potentially contaminated, a Phase II environmental site assessment may be conducted, ASTM test E1903, and a more detailed investigation involving chemical analysis for hazardous substances and/or petroleum hydrocarbons may be necessary.
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