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Performing a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) is crucial for understanding whether or not a property is likely to contain any recognized environmental conditions. These conditions include the presence—or the likely presence—of petroleum products or hazardous materials that may be released in the future. All Phase 1 ESAs must meet the standard practices outlined in the ASTM E1527. It’s best to conduct this assessment before purchasing property or transferring legal ownership to gain a big picture view of any possible environmental issues.

Why Perform a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment?

The purpose of performing a Phase 1 ESA is to ensure adequate due diligence as part of a property transfer. This limits the liability of the purchaser from any existing environmental conditions. Related: The Best Type of Remote Sensing for Your Environmental Project You’ll want to perform a Phase 1 ESA to determine if a property contains any environmental hazards before you buy. If those hazards are later found on your property after purchasing it, you’ll more than likely be liable. This liability also comes with new problems – you could be on the hook for expensive remediation (even if you didn’t cause the contamination).

When Are Phase 1 ESAs Necessary?

Performing a Phase 1 ESA is a good idea for various situations, including:
  • Commercial real estate transactions—especially when they involve a bank loan.
  • Commercial property transactions
  • Transactions of properties near commercial or industrial operations
  • Transactions involving commercial or industrial operations that use hazardous materials
  • Transactions of properties with known environmental liens
  • Transactions of properties involving oil or gas exploration
A man pointing at sticky notes on a whiteboard.

How to Perform a Phase 1 ESA

If you need to complete a Phase 1 ESA for a property, according to standard guidelines, you’ll need to consult an environmental professional like HANA Resources. During this time, you should keep in mind several things about having an environmental consultant perform a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment:
  • The process can take up to 20 days (or sometimes more) to complete, depending on your specific project.
  • It’s crucial to ensure you have enough time during your due diligence period to perform the Phase 1 ESA.
  • Start talking with your environmental consultant either before or immediately after starting your due diligence period to ensure that the site assessment timeline fits within your transaction schedule.
  • Phase 1 ESA reports will expire six months after the final report.
  • However, you can have the report updated after the original 180 days.
  • If you cooperate fully with your environmental consultant’s requests, you can typically complete the Phase 1 ESA in a shorter amount of time.

What Happens During a Phase 1 Environmental Assessment?

HANA Resources can complete reports of Phase 1 ESAs on any of property, including agricultural, vacant, industrial, commercial, and multi-family residential land. The report’s intent is to identify if any current or historical property uses impacted the groundwater or soil on the property that could pose a threat to human health or the environment. Any issues could impact the property owner’s liability and the property’s value. Related: Our Compliance Monitoring Services Typically, a Phase 1 ESA will include the following:
  • A visit to the site to observe conditions—both current and past— and the uses of the property & adjacent properties
  • A review of regulatory databases—state, federal, tribal, and local—including aboveground and underground storage tanks, suspected or known release cases, and the storage or disposal of hazardous substances and waste
  • A review of historical records, including aerial photographs, historical city directories and topographic maps, and fire insurance maps
  • A review of local and state agency records, including building, fire, and health departments and state environmental agencies
  • Interviews with the past and current property owners, occupants, operators, etc
  • Interviews with Report Users for judicial and title records for environmental activities and liens, use limitations, and reasonably ascertainable information.
Once completed, the environmental professional conducting the Phase 1 ESA will summarize any concerns they identify and recommend what actions you should take. A recognized environmental condition indicates either a known or potential contamination, and a controlled recognized environmental condition identifies that, while the contamination has been remediated, it would require more work if redeveloped. A historically recognized environmental condition means that an issue affecting the property has been investigated and remediated with unrestricted use criteria.

How HANA Resources Can Help With Your Phase 1 ESA

The process and reporting of a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment can be confusing, particularly for those unfamiliar with them. It’s crucial to find and work with an environmental consultant who is willing to walk you through the entire study and its results. An environmental professional will keep you updated on important discoveries and can you determine whether or not your decision to purchase a property is a good one. The right environmental firm can save you an invaluable amount of time, resources, and money. A view of Los Angeles, California.

Our Site Assessment Services

At HANA Resources, we’ve been performing various site assessments, including Phase 1 ESAs, for over 20 years across California. Our key personnel environmental consultants are approaching 35 years of experience performing these studies. We have expert-level experience evaluating properties possibly impacted with suspected or known hazardous and regulated materials. Our staff of scientists has deep knowledge of Phase 1 ESA requirements, along with Phase 2 site characterizations and assessments of a broad range of properties. These properties range from gas stations and dry cleaning businesses to industrial manufacturing facilities and full-scale petroleum refineries. Between our experienced geologists and expert environmental scientists, our team has the knowledge, capability, and experience needed to plan and implement Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessments and other site investigation programs. We do so in an efficient, cost-effective manner that abides by all of California’s regulatory requirements. All of our actions align with our mission to bring our clients responsive, results-oriented, and affordable environmental services. Other than Phase 1 ESAs, we offer additional site assessment services, including:
  • Phase II Environmental Site Assessments
  • Hydrogeologic Evaluations & Modeling
  • Remedial Investigations & Feasibility Studies
  • RCRA Permitting & Closure
  • Regulatory Agency Coordination & Negotiations
  • Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)
  • Hazardous Waste
In need of a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment for your property or a property you plan to purchase? Our environmental experts can walk you through the process and ensure a timely, efficient study. Contact us today. Related: View Our Projects!

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