Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA)
Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) – A Phase I ESA is conducted to evaluate environmental concerns caused by past or present on-site and off-site activities. Phase I ESAs can assist in evaluating environmental liabilities associated with real property acquisition and ownership. Information obtained through environmental site assessments can greatly impact the economics of a property transaction, affecting the owner, buyer, seller and lender. The scope of work for a typical Phase I ESA consists of the following tasks as relevant and possible:
- An on-site reconnaissance and inspection by a Barr & Clark environmental professional (Registered Environmental Assessor in California) to evaluate current conditions at the subject property/site and vicinity;
- A review of environmental databases, including listings of known or suspected contaminated sites, known landfill locations, known leaking underground storage tank (LUST) locations, and operations regulated under federal or state hazardous waste regulations;
- A review of historical aerial photographs and topographic maps;
- A review of previous documented environmental site assessments and evaluations performed at the subject property/site as such are relevant and provided to Barr & Clark;
- A review of title documentation for evidence of environmental liens on the subject property/site;
- An interview with the subject property/site owner’s representative;
- A description of the regional geologic and hydrogeologic setting for the subject property/site; and
- Preparation of a written report.
- Storage, use and disposal of chemicals, hazardous materials, or hazardous waste at the subject property/site;
- Previous on-site activities;
- Possible contamination resulting from off-site sources and nearby properties; and
- Historical or current circumstances that suggest that the subject property/site could be a source of contamination.
A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (Phase I ESA) is conducted in general accordance with the criteria listed in the ASTM Standard E1527-05 (the Standard) to evaluate properties for the possible presence of contaminants as defined by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA, 42 USC Section 9601). A Phase I ESA is also conducted to evaluate the possible presence of petroleum products which are not regulated by CERCLA. In addition to the regulations identified above, a Phase I ESA is also conducted in general accordance with the All Appropriate Inquiries (AAI) criteria as defined by 42 USC Section 9601. The Barr & Clark Phase I ESA report is formatted to provide general consistency with the guidelines provided by the Standard.
Phase I ESA Update
A Phase I ESA is valid for 180 days. If the information in the Phase I was collected or has been updated within one year of the date of the original Phase I ESA, then a Phase I ESA Update can be completed and only the following environmental due diligence components must be conducted:
- Environmental Liens Search;
- Environmental Records Review;
- Review of Local Government Records;
- Visual Inspection; and
- Authorization by an Environmental Professional.
It is important to know the time line of the property acquisition or intended transaction. The Phase I ESA should be completed within 180 days of this date, but if for some reason the transaction is delayed, conducting a Phase I ESA Update within one year will save time, money and effort.