Phase I, II, and III Environmental Site Assessments (ESA's)
In today's marketplace, evaluation of potential risk, including environmental liabilities, associated with real estate acquisition in business transactions is essential. Lending institutions and purchasers of property can face enormous costs of environmental cleanup and remediation of site contamination. Potential sources of environmental liability range from the obvious hazardous material spill to undetected presence of unseen groundwater and soil contamination caused by a leaking underground storage tank.
An Environmental Site Assessment is a valuable tool in limiting the potential risks of environmental liability. Griggs & Maloney's experienced staff have completed numerous property assessments in all phases of investigation.
The initiation of each phase is dependent upon the findings of the previous phase. For example, at a minimum, each site investigation includes an AAI record review, knowledgeable person interview, and site reconnaissance. If the reviewed information and inspections indicate no environmental recognized environmental conditions1, then there is no need to proceed with Phases II and III investigations.
Environmental assessments have historically been divided into three (3) sequential phases. These phases include the following:
Phase I: Review of available historical records; interviews with persons knowledgeable of the site; and a visual inspection of the site, preferably a perambulatory reconnaissance or “walk-over” of the site. This process is now known as an AAI.
Phase II: Selective sampling of areas suspect of being potential environmental liabilities.
Phase III: Develop strategy for site utilization and/or potential environmental remediation or clean up.
The AAI may identify an area, or areas, of the property which in the past, currently, or which may reasonably be expected to pose future environmental liabilities. Such a finding would typically result in a recommendation for collecting media (e.g., building materials, soil, groundwater, surface water) samples and subsequent analysis as part of a Phase II investigation. The Phase II investigation would be designed to confirm or refute the presence of substances of environmental concern on the property. If a Phase II Assessment indicates environmental concerns that need further investigation or corrective action, then a Phase III Assessment may be necessary. Phase III is a more comprehensive sampling, assessment, and site remediation program, which may allow for estimating the remedial actions and capital/operating costs for the property.
1 A recognized environmental condition is defined as "the presence or likely presence of any hazardous substances or petroleum products on a property under conditions that indicate an existing release, a past release, or a material threat of a release of any hazardous substances or petroleum products into structures on the property or into the ground, groundwater, or surface water of the property. The term includes hazardous substances or petroleum products even under conditions in compliance with laws. The term is not intended to include de minimis conditions that generally do not present a material risk of harm to public health or the environment and that generally would not be the subject of an enforcement action if brought to the attention of appropriate governmental agencies."