What Is Phase I Environmental Site Assessment?

What Is Phase I Environmental Site Assessment?

Anyone who is either refinancing or buying a commercial property will need to have a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) carried out on the land. However, even though many people are aware that having this assessment done is necessary, they remain unaware of what it actually involves. Since the regulations which surround a Phase I ESA may be confusing to those who are not experts in the environment, this article will tell you more about what this type of assessment actually is.

Why Are Phase I Environmental Site Assessments Necessary?

Phase I ESA was first introduced as a response to the increasing problem of commercial property buyers discovering that the land they had bought was actually severely contaminated. The legislation was introduced which placed the responsibility for cleaning up contamination at the door of those who created the problem in the first place, rather than relying on the purchaser to deal with the issue. As part of this legislation, buyers of commercial sites must have a Phase I ESA carried out to ensure that, should a cleanup be necessary, they will not be held responsible for the expense.

What Does the Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Checklist Cover?

The Phase I ESA Checklist investigates the current and previous use and history of the land in order to determine whether any of that usage could have resulted in contamination of the groundwater or soil on the site. If chemicals, hazardous materials, or petroleum could have been released near or at the site, a Phase II ESA will be necessary.

Carried out by a professional company like All American Environmental, a Phase I ESA has a number of areas to investigate, including:

  • A complete review of all of the property’s historical records, including old photographs and maps.
  • A complete review of all of the government’s environmental records pertaining to the property, including records for registrations of fuel tanks and manifests for hazardous materials.
  • Interviews with the previous and current occupants of the property, and with any other people who might shed some light on the property’s present or past uses.
  • A complete inspection of the site, including the interiors and exteriors of the property and its grounds. This visual inspection includes features like site activities, stained soils, and the presence of chemical or fuel storage tanks.


Is Anything Not Included in the Environmental Site Assessment?

The Phase I ESA is solely a visual inspection, together with a comprehensive review of documentation relating to the property. Usually, there is no testing or sampling involved during this assessment phase, as soil testing or sampling would be carried out should a Phase II assessment be deemed to be necessary. There are also some activities that are not considered within the scope of a Phase I ESA, such as the presence of asbestos or mold.

What Happens After the Environmental Site Assessment?

Following the inspection of the site and the review of all documentation, the environmental professional will either recommend further investigations be carried out or, should no concerns be discovered, Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Certification will be granted.

Need an Environmental Site Assessment?

All American Environmental has the experience and skills to carry out Phase I and II assessments, ensuring that all commercial property purchasers are well protected from expensive operations to cleanup contaminations that they did not cause.

Contact All American Environmental located in New Jersey, a full environmental consulting and contracting company.  One of our professional licensed and insured professionals will be happy to assist you.