Phase 1, 2, and 3 Environmental Site Assessments
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Phase 1 Environmental Sites Assessments (ESAs) are the most commonly used form of environmental due diligence, both for lending institutions and their borrowers. A Phase I ESA for commercial properties can be initiated for the following circumstances:
• Purchase of a property by a person or entity not previously on title;
• Contemplation by a new lender to provide a loan on the property;
• Partnership buyout or principal redistribution of ownership;
• Application to a public agency for change of use or other discretionary land use permit;
• Existing property owner’s desire to understand toxic history of the property;
• Compulsion by a regulatory agency who suspects toxic conditions on the site; and
• Divestiture of properties
Actual sampling of soil, air, groundwater and/or building materials is not conducted during a Phase I ESA.
A Phase 2 ESA is the next phase of the process if environmental concerns arise during the previous Phase 1, or other ESAs.
A Phase II ESA is “the systematic, process where physical samples and testing take place to characterize environmental conditions related to the property. A Phase 2 ESA can confirm or refute the potential contamination identified in a Phase 1 ESA, provide supplemental information for previous Phase II ESAs and provide the basis for evaluating site remediation needs.
The Phase II ESA components include:
• A review of Phase 1 and 2 ESA information;
• Development of a health and safety plan;
• Development of Quality Assurance and Quality Control plan;
• Development of a site investigation plan;
• Completion of a site investigation (includes geophysical work, sample collections);
• Interpretation and evaluation of analytical data from the site investigation;
• Estimation of the lateral and vertical extent of the contamination;
• A detailed description of remediation activities;
• Confirmatory sampling locations and analytical data; and
• Preparation of a factual report-confirming laboratory reported results and recommendations if required.
The Phase 2 ESA can entail digging of test pits, drilling of boreholes, and or installing groundwater-monitoring wells.
A Phase 3 ESA involves intensive remediation/cleanup of a property primarily through excavation. The primary objective of a Phase 3 ESA is to investigate migration pathways of contaminants through soil and groundwater and to determine the potential risk to human health and the environment through, confirmatory sampling.
The key components of a Phase 3 ESA are:
• Review of the previous site assessments on the property;
• Develop a Remedial Action Plan (RAP), or site-specific remedial goals (including volume and area of impact, time-frame, costs, physical/chemical limitations, construction requirements, environmental as well as health and safety implications, regulatory approval and public perception);
• Develop a health and safety plan;
• Proper disposal and treatment of contaminants on and off property;
• Regulatory body communication and documentation for site progress; and
• Preparation of a factual report confirming contaminant removal, treatment and the current status of the site with laboratory data.
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