A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment is a generally accepted report for evaluating the environmental liability associated with a property, and is frequently required by lenders.
An environmental consultant conducting a Phase I ESA gathers information regarding a property to evaluate whether past or present activities may have caused contamination of the soil or groundwater. If the Phase I ESA uncovers a recognized environmental condition (REC), the environmental consultant will usually recommend a Phase II ESA, which involves invasive soil or groundwater testing. Their information sources when conducting a Phase I ESA may include the following:
-Inspection of site and observation of surrounding properties
-Note presence of hazardous materials and potential sources of contamination
-Look for evidence of past uses of the property
-Oil & gas maps
Geology & Hydrogeology
-Ground water flow
-Fire department and other local agencies
-State & federal environmental agencies
Interviews & Document Review
-Tenants, owners and property managers
-State & local regulators
-Review provided reports
The widely accepted standard for conducting a Phase I ESA is the American Society of Testing Materials (ASTM) 1527-2005 Standard, although specific clients and agencies may have additional requirements and standards. The ASTM E1527-05 Standard for Phase I Environmental Site Assessments has been accepted by the EPA as meeting the requirements of All Appropriate Inquiry. The EPA’s All Appropriate Inquiries Rule governing the scope of Phase I Environmental Site Assessments went into effect on November 1, 2006 and provided specific scope requirements for a Phase I ESA to meet the requirements of CERCLA’s (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, commonly known as the Superfund law) innocent land owner defense.