Phase I Environmental Site Assessments

A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) (aka Level 1, Property Transaction Due Diligence) is usually performed by a party considering a purchase of real estate. Its purpose is to protect the purchaser from future potential liability for site contamination (Environmental Site Assessments – Historical Background) by conducting an intensive search into current and historical sources, to review previous site usage.

A property owner may also wish to conduct a Phase I ESA of their land, prior to placing the property on the market for sale, prior to refinancing, making changes to the legal ownership, etc. In this manner, the owner can begin to resolve environmental issues at their own pace and not be surprised with adverse findings during a short due diligence period.

In accordance with ASTM Method E1527-13, the scope of services for a Phase I ESA – or Level I – includes three key components:

  • Review of standard environmental databases
  • Review of records to document the past and current uses of the property and vicinity to first developed use or to 1940, whichever is earlier, and
  • Thorough site reconnaissance by an Environmental Professional

Recommendations for further action or assessment are not required to be presented in the Phase I ESA report. Notice that there is no sampling and testing of soil, air or other site media. The Phase I ESA conclusions are based solely on the research findings.

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