An ASTM Phase I performed in accordance with ASTM E1527-13 is generally intended to qualify a buyer for the innocent landowner defense to CERCLA (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act) liability. An ASTM Phase I applies practices that constitute ‘all appropriate inquiry into the previous ownership and uses of the property consistent with good commercial or customary practice’. The goal is to identify the presence or likely presence of any hazardous substances or petroleum products on a property under conditions that indicate an existing release, a past release, or a material threat of a release of any hazardous substances or petroleum products.
Phase I ESAs are conducted for real estate transactions, property development, bank financing, re-financing, and foreclosures, and other in-house proactive audit programs. It is a qualitative approach to determine whether or not oil and/or hazardous materials have affected a property. The process is designed to evaluate both current and historic site uses and to review available records in order to identify recognized environmental conditions (REC). When a REC is identified, CSE has the staff and knowledge to take the project to the next level of assessment; a Phase II ESA which involves the actual sampling of either soil, groundwater, soil gas and/or indoor air. Our goal is to help our clients understand a property’s environmental risks completely and in a clear, unambiguous manner. Our approach meets ASTM guidelines and can be adjusted with additional protocol to satisfy our client’s needs.
A Phase I ESA includes four main components:
- Records Review: Regulatory records are obtained from federal and state agencies, municipal departments, and standard sources (NPL, CERCLIS, RCRA, etc.) to help identify RECs. The historical land use review includes aerial photographs, city directories, Sanborn fire insurance maps, and interviews with government officials and people familiar with the property and adjoining areas.
- Site Reconnaissance: a visual reconnaissance of the property is conducted by an experienced environmental professional to verify the findings of the records review and to observe surface conditions for evidence of the use, storage, and release of petroleum and hazardous materials.
- Interviews: CSE will attempt to conduct interviews with past and present owners/operators, a key site manager, and occupants of the property to obtain information indicating recognized environmental conditions in connection with the property.
- Report: A single report summarizing the assessment procedures and all relevant information will be prepared for the property, in accordance with the ASTM E1527-13 format. Photographs will be included along with relevant documents obtained during the Phase I ESA, including a Site location map (topographic quadrangle of the subject area), Sanborn Maps, aerial photographs, historical topographic maps, historical street directories, property tax map/card, and an environmental database report. The information and data obtained from the above-referenced tasks will be reviewed, compiled, and presented in a Phase I ESA Report. Evidence of RECs as well as potential releases of petroleum and hazardous materials on the Site or adjacent properties will be noted, if identified. An Opinion provided by a CSE Environmental Professional, in accordance with ASTM E 1527-13 shall be provided regarding the environmental conditions observed at the Site with conclusions presented concerning the presence or absence of RECs in connection with the Site.
In the event that a recognized environmental condition (REC) is identified, CSE has the staff and knowledge to take the project to the next level of assessment; a Phase II ESA which involves the actual sampling of soil, groundwater, and indoor air.