What is a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment?

A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (Phase I ESA), is a screening tool that determines whether a property’s environmental quality may have been impacted by Recognized Environmental Conditions. When confirmed or suspected Recognized Environmental Conditions are identified, a follow-up Phase II Environmental Site Assessment is needed where environmental samples are collected, analyzed and compared to applicable regulatory standards.

The industry standard Phase I ESA was developed by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) in 1993. There currently are two acceptable ASTM Phase I Standards. The 2013 Standard includes a Tier I Vapor Encroachment Screen and is used primarily for residential properties, while the 2005 Standard does not and for that reason is used primarily for commercial and industrial zoned real estate.

What You Get with ACT’s Phase I Environmental Site Assessment

ACT’s Phase I ESA includes a site inspection, review of historical property information, review of federal, state and municipal databases and preparation of a Phase I ESA report. A typical Phase I Environmental Site Assessment takes 3 weeks to complete, but can be completed in as little as 48 hours at an additional charge. Where environmental conditions are suspected, a Phase I ESA can be performed simultaneously with a Phase II Environmental Site Assessment, saving both time and money.

When only an updated Phase I ESA is needed or exclusively residential properties are involved, abbreviated assessments such as a Transaction Screen or an Environmental Source Review can be prepared. Contact ACT for its free expertise in finding the right environmental assessment for your project.

ACT’s Phase I ESA includes:

The site inspection provides information pertaining to the current environmental quality of the property. ACT personnel inspect the interior and exterior of a property for specific features such as storage tanks, chemical handling and disposal practices, areas of staining or stressed vegetation, drainage structures, and the potential occurrence of polychlorinated biphenyls, asbestos, lead based paint and radon. The site inspection also includes a description of adjacent properties and any indications of prior environmental investigations at the property or adjacent properties. Photographs of the property are also obtained and a site sketch is prepared.
The historical property information provides background into the former development, occupants and operations at the property and its current physical setting. Through the Freedom of Information Law, all available County, Town and Village public agency documents pertaining to the property will be obtained. These public agencies include the Building Department, Zoning Department, Fire Marshal or Department and the Department of Health. Additional historical information is obtained from fire insurance maps, city directories, interviews with current or former owners or occupants of the property and in some cases aerial photographs of the property. The physical setting of the property is also evaluated through a review of USGS 7.5 Minute Topographic Maps and geological publications.
Federal and State databases are reviewed for listings indicating that the property itself or nearby properties could impact the subject property, including known hazardous waste sites, landfills, chemical or oil spills and environmental liens or easements. Companies generating, storing and disposing hazardous wastes, such as dry cleaners or gas stations are also evaluated. ACT utilizes a propriety software developed by Biologic Environmental Information Systems, Inc. to narrow the search for properties that have a high likelihood of impacting the subject property.
The results of the Phase I ESA are provided in a concise, easy-to-read report including an executive summary, conclusions and, if necessary, recommendations for further action to determine the environmental quality of the property. ACT’s Phase I ESA reports also include not to exceed cost estimates for recommended further action, from reviewing additional documents to performing a comprehensive Phase II Environmental Site Assessment. These features make ACT’s Phase I ESA a valuable tool in ongoing or future negotiations on a property.