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Environmental Site Assessments

The objective of a Phase I Environmental Site (ESA) Assessment is to identify potential recognized environmental conditions (RECs) in connection with the Site. ASTM defines RECs 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 threat to human 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. Conditions determined to be de minimus are not recognized environmental conditions.” (E1527 – 05, ASTM, Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process).

A Phase I ESA is also an attempt to satisfy one of the requirements to qualify for the innocent landowner, contiguous property owner, or bona fide prospective purchaser defense identified by the Comprehensive Environmental Response and Liability Act (CERCLA) by completing “all appropriate inquiry into the previous ownership and uses of the property consistent with good commercial or customary practice”. “All appropriate inquiry” is an obligation under CERCLA, as amended by the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986 (SARA), the Asset Conservation, Lender Liability, and Deposit Insurance Protection Act of 1996 (the “Lender Liability Amendments”), and the Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Action of 2001.

The objective of a Phase II Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) is to confirm if hazardous substances or petroleum products are present at the site at concentrations requiring action, such as notification or corrective action. A Phase II ESA typically includes sampling and analysis of potentially contaminated media (soil, groundwater, sediment, surface water). A Phase III ESA is conducted to assess the extent of impacted media. Corrective Action planning and implementation may be required to reduce contaminants below action levels.

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