Phase I Environmental Site Assessments
Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) are an integral part of the due diligence process when acquiring commercial real estate. The American Society of Testing Materials’ (ASTM) environmental group has developed Standard Practice E1527-05 for guidance in conducting Phase I ESAs for commercial real estate. The focus of this standard is for conducting appropriate inquiry into previous ownership and uses of the property pursuant to the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act’s (CERCLA) innocent landowner defense. A related practice is ASTM Standard Practice E1528 for Environmental Site Assessments: Transaction Screen Process.
PPI personnel are thoroughly familiar with implementing Phase I ESAs having conducted numerous Phase I ESAs for PPI and in their prior experience.
PPI’s objective in implementation of Phase I ESAs is to evaluate the historical use of the property and vicinity, and to identify the presence of potential environmental impairments due to historical or present operations quickly and efficiently. This is accomplished by:
- Utilization of worksheets and questionnaires to ensure all pertinent information is examined. This includes those for PPI personnel conducting site reconnaissance and for interviews with personnel knowledgeable about the site.
- Utilization of environmental database search services which document environmental issues of the site and vicinity that have come to the attention of regulatory authorities. This information is reviewed with an understanding of the geology and hydrogeological conditions of the area and how a release at the Site or vicinity would affect the Site under consideration.
- Review of historical aerial photographs and/or topographic maps and other selected historical sources such as Sanbourn maps or directories to provide some understand of historical use of the Site and vicinity.
- Conducting a site reconnaissance to view the condition and operation of businesses at the site and vicinity with respect to activities that have the potential for releases of process chemicals to soil, surface water, or groundwater.
- Review of selected regulatory agency files such as building permits, fire department records regarding hazardous materials and underground storage tanks, and other regulatory files based on results of the above activities.
The information collected is reviewed and evaluated for the potential to consist of recognized environmental conditions (RECs) for the Site. If potential RECs are found that could be resolved by subsequent environmental testing, and Phase II investigation tailored to answer the uncertainty identified will be recommended.