The Stages of a Site Investigation

In the past, it was much easier to buy a piece of land for commercial development. As a business owner, you arranged to buy a piece of land from someone. You agreed on a price, signed a deed, and the land was yours. However, no land purchase these days is that simple. Now, you have to jump through a bunch of hoops, fill out a bunch of paperwork, and file many reports. It’s even more complicated in the United States. In the U.S., business owners who want to acquire property must conduct a site investigation before they can secure financing. There are advantages of a site investigation, however. And, that makes having one important.

Not sure what a site investigation is, or what the stages of a site investigation are? We have some information for you.

Why Do I Need A Site Investigation?

Site investigations are necessary to satisfy the requirements of CERCLA (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act). Passed in 1980, CERCLA requires that all commercial properties for sale undergo an evaluation to see if there’s any contamination. There were many properties that were sites of former factories. These were heavily contaminated with industrial waste. Because companies came and went, it was impossible to tell which one was responsible for the contamination. The state and federal governments had to pick up the tab. As a result, the federal government passed CERCLA.

The law requires that companies identify any hazards before selling any property. If an investigation finds any contamination, the business owner can remove it before construction continues or the sale has finished.

What Is a Site Investigation Survey?

A site investigation survey takes place in several phases.  Phase I takes place when a site investigation team reviews whether there is a suspicion of hazards on a property. The team members would look at the property records as far back as possible. They would figure out what kind of businesses had previously been on the property. They would investigate whether the business might have deposited hazardous products in the soil. The team members would also view the records of adjacent properties. If possible, they might interview former property owners. The team might also see if they can detect any contamination in the soil.  Phase I of the investigation is preliminary. If the team members do not suspect any soil contamination, the investigation will stop. However, if they suspect there is contamination, it will continue.

After the first phase of the investigation, Phase II will begin. In Phase II, the team members will determine if the soil and water are contaminated with hazardous substances. They will perform extensive soil and water sampling all over the property, as well as the adjacent properties. They will send the samples to a lab and compare the results to state and federal guidelines. As part of the detailed site investigation, the team will also look at the interior of any commercial buildings. In addition, the team will perform an extensive mapping of the property. The purpose is to determine if it is on a water source or a wetland. The team members also perform animal surveys to see if there are any threatened or endangered animals on the land.

In Phase III, construction on the property has already begun. There is an investigation conducted during construction and foundation work on the property to ensure no contaminants are present. This is important. At this time, the soil is disturbed, and foundation digging can reach several feet deep. Foundation digging makes it simpler to determine whether contamination has occurred because it is easy to obtain soil samples.

If you need to learn more about the stages of a site investigation or a comprehensive site investigation or assessment, we can help. Contact All American Environmental in N.J. today, and let us help you move forward with your commercial property purchase.