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Phase I Site Assessments

Phase I Environmental Site Assessments

Phase I Environmental Site Assessments research the current and historical uses of a piece of property to determine if those uses have impacted the soil or groundwater beneath the property and could thereby pose a threat to the environment and/or human health. If such issues are found, they could affect the value of the property as well as present a potential liability for the individuals involved in the ownership.

Phase I Environmental Site Assessments limit liability

Environmental regulations developed at the federal level target potentially responsible persons (PRPs). To limit individual liability, a Phase I ESA completed prior to the closing of a commercial real estate transaction is considered performing “due diligence” and serves to satisfy the requirements of CERCLA’s (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act) innocent landowner defense under All Appropriate Inquiries (AAI).

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Standards for conducting Phase I ESAs

ASTM International has developed standards (ASTM E1527) with which all Phase I Environmental Site Assessment reports must comply. Phase I ESAs may be completed on all types of properties including vacant land, agricultural, multi-family residential, commercial, and industrial uses.

Site Assessment Materials

Phase I Environmental Site Assessments from AMRC

In order to conduct Phase I Environmental Site Assessments AMRC’s staff will typically:

  • Visit the property to observe current conditions and uses of the property and adjacent properties
  • Review federal, state, tribal, and local regulatory databases
  • Review historical records of the property i.e. aerial photographs, fire insurance maps, and topographical maps
  • Review state and local agency records including environmental agencies and building, fire, and health departments
  • Interview the current and past property owners, operators, occupants and others who are familiar with the property
  • Interview the Report User for title or judicial records for environmental liens and activity and use limitations (AULs); specialized knowledge or experience, actual knowledge, commonly known  or reasonably ascertainable information; the reason for any significantly lower purchase price; and the reason for the preparation of the Phase I ESA. It is the User’s responsibility to provide this information in order to qualify for the innocent landowner defense.

AMRC’s staff will evaluate this research and identify potential environmental risks to the property. These risks include current or past operations that are known or suspected to have used hazardous substances during their onsite operations. If any recognized environmental conditions (RECs) are noted, our engineer will address them according to the ASTM E1527 regulations.

The identification of a REC will often include a recommendation for a Phase II Environmental Site Assessment.

Asbestos Abatement

Standards for conducting Phase II ESAs

ASTM International has developed standards for conducting Phase II Environmental Site Assessments — ASTM E 1903, Standard Guide for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase II Environmental Site Assessment Process. Be aware of regulatory standards, including reporting requirements, which may be applicable to the type of Phase II ESA being conducted.

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