Knowledge

What Does an ASTM Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment (Ph. 1 ESA) Include?

The two items that will save any non-residential real estate buyer money are a low interest rate on the mortgage and a thoroughly performed Phase I ESA.  The Phase I ESA for all practical purposes can save more money than shopping interest rates as a Phase I can find that $$$$$$$-eating environmental problem (Recognized Environmental Concern) BEFORE you pay (too much) for the property. Note that a Phase 1 ESA does not substitute for an environmental review record, but may satisfy HUD site contamination and toxic substances review elements in a federal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review.

The form and content of any Ph. 1 ESA will follow the form and content outlined in ASTM standard E 1527-05

A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) is meant to identify the potential for contamination of a site by hazardous or toxic materials and to identify other possible environmental constraints on the site.  It is not meant to be a detailed, comprehensive investigation based on quantitative or qualitative analytical data.  No environmental sampling and analysis will be performed under the normal Phase I scope of work.  The results of the Phase I ESA will be used to determine whether or not further study (such as a Phase II ESA) is warranted, based on the background information gathered and the results of the site inspection.  To obtain and develop the information required for the Phase I ESA of the property in a timely and efficient manner, the scope of work shown below is needed, subject to minor additions and deletions, as indicated by the availability, relevancy, and adequacy of the background information, and by best professional field judgment.

Task 1 Off Site Review

A.        Identify the city, county and state where the site is located.

B.        Obtain and review current Federal and State databases of suspected and confirmed contaminated sites within the zip code of the site, or within a minimum of one (1) mile, including the following:

1.    NPL [Superfund], FINDS [EPA’s Facility Index System], CERCLIS, RCRA, Open Dump Site listings, ERNS [Emergency Response Notification System], and the State Priority List, UST Facility Information, and Solid Waste  Facility Information listings.  State and local agencies will be contacted as necessary to determine if environmental monitoring or enforcement activities, investigations or claims are or have occurred on or near the site, and if industrial or waste water discharges to surface waters occur near the site.

2.    Scope of relevant minimum search distances:

  • Federal RCRA Generators List Property/Adjoining Prop.
  • Federal Institutional Control/Engineering Control Registries Property Only
  • Federal Emergency Response Notification System (ERNS) List Property Only
  • State- and Tribal-Equivalent NPL 1 Mile
  • State- and Tribal-Equivalent CERCLIS 0.5 Mile
  • State and Tribal Landfill and/or Solid Waste Disposal Site Lists 0.5 Mile
  • State and Tribal Leaking Storage Tank Lists 0.5 Mile
  • State and Tribal Voluntary Cleanup Sites 0.5 Mile
  • State and Tribal Brownfield Sites 0.5 Mile
  • State and Tribal Registered Storage Tank Lists Property/Adjoining Prop.
  • State and Tribal Institutional & Engineering Control Registries Property Only

C.      1.           Indicate other agencies contacted, the name of the person contacted, and the information obtained.

2.           State the name and address of any listed facility found to be within one mile of the site.  Based on the search, indicate the distance and direction from the site to these facilities.

Task 2 Past Uses of the Site and Surrounding Land

A.        Review title information of the property (provided at Client’s expense), and Sanborn Maps, if available, to obtain information on past uses of the property possibly pertaining to the storage, treatment or disposal of hazardous substances.

B.        Interview the current owners, employees, neighbors, government officials etc., regarding present and previous uses of the property and surrounding area, to a reasonable extent.  Indicate the name of the contact and information obtained.

C.        Examine readily-available historical aerial photographs and/or maps for indications of historical uses of the property, and for any evidence of potential on-site contamination, such as dumping or land filling.

D.        Investigate whether the site or surrounding land within a one (1) mile radius of the site is being or has been used for any of the following purposes:

 1.        Agricultural (may be indicative of pesticide or herbicide used).

 2.        Landfill.

 3.        Tank/drum/equipment storage.

 4.        Industrial/manufacturing facility (type).

 5.        Oil/gas exploration.

 6.        Chemical/petroleum or waste storage/processing/ injection wells.

 7.        Military installations.

 8.        Fill areas.

 9.        Quarries/sand and gravel extraction.

E.         Investigate whether there are or have been any storage tanks on the site and, where possible, what was stored in them.  If possible, determine the age and the capacity of the tanks and whether a suspected release from the tanks has been reported. Determine if any existing tanks are in compliance with applicable tank laws and regulations.

Task 3 Present and Proposed Use of Property/Surrounding Land

A.        Provide a Site Location Map of the area using a USGS Quadrangle Map with the site clearly identified.

B.        Identify any land within one (1) mile of the site that is indicated or proposed as a permitted landfill, hazardous waste, or solid waste facility.  If so, determine potential for environmental impact on the site.

C.        Determine if there is evidence that water wells, in use or abandoned, exist on the property.  Indicate if they are the primary source of drinking water.  Specify the present and proposed method of supplying drinking water.

D.        Determine the present or proposed method of sewage disposal, whether public or private.  Determine if a septic system, abandoned or in use, exists on the site.

E.        Provide a preliminary hydrogeological characterization of the site by reviewing soil survey maps, geological maps, topographical maps, flood plain maps and data, and any other pertinent data available for the property and its vicinity.

Task 4 Walking Inspection of Site’s Property

A.        A qualified Environmental Professional will conduct a walking inspection of the property in order to determine whether any of the following were discovered:

 1.        Discolored or disturbed soil areas.

 2.        Areas of sparse, sick or dead vegetation.

 3.        Drums or storage tanks (note type).

 4.        Discolored or polluted water; unusual or noxious odors.

 5.        Groundwater monitoring wells.

 6.        Floor drains.

 7.        Roads with no apparent outlet or purpose.

 8.        PCB containing transformers within structures or on power poles and lighting ballasts in older buildings.  Other potential PCB containing    material, such as soil near current or former railroad tracks.

 9.        Maintenance practices and hazardous materials handling procedures.

10.       Any storage of significant quantities of potentially hazardous chemicals, including herbicides and/or pesticides.

11.       Potential use of lead based paint.

12.       Potential wetlands and flood plains.

B.        Provide documenting photographs/ written results of interviews with anyone knowledgeable that was contacted during a site visit.

Task 5 Final Report

A.        Review the data developed from the field reconnaissance, agency contacts and records for technical accuracy and corroboration.  Analyze and assemble the data into a final report stating conclusions and recommendations either that no further study of the site be undertaken or that a Phase II Environmental Site Assessment be initiated.

B.        Determine whether there are any unique environmental factors, observations, or aspects of the site history which would justify further investigations.

The report will detail the information obtained from the site research.

It should be noted that a warranty on the environmental condition of the site cannot be provided, nor a guarantee of any kind.  The report provided will represent professional opinion based upon the information disclosed by the Client and available in public records, together with the application of standard scientific field investigation methods.  It must be recognized that at the completion of the Phase I ESA, there may be unresolved issues regarding the possible contamination of the site, or the potential presence of suspect materials.  Based upon preliminary findings of the Phase I study, the Client will be immediately informed by letter of any suspect or unusual conditions which may result in a recommendation for further study.

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