Environmental Site Assessment: Phases 1, 2, & 3

a buyer holding a handful of dirtWhen a buyer or company decides to purchase a piece of property to develop for commercial use, they will usually have an Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) completed before taking out a loan.

An ESA is a study established by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) to evaluate land and identify any potential contaminants therein. ESAs can require multiple phases to complete depending on the results found, but Phases 1-3 are most common.

Phase 1 of the Environmental Site Assessment

Phase 1 follows the guidelines covered on form E-1527. During Phase 1, the property is first researched online via federal and state databases for any record of contamination to the site or hazardous material located on sites within a 1-mile radius. The surrounding area is also checked to see if any excavation areas like rock quarries or landfills are present.

After a thorough online investigation, a physical inspection of the property is held. Certified inspectors look for soil discoloration, health and wellness of flora, and any water source locations. They also check for drums on the property and the presence of utilities, such as generators, power lines, or sewage disposals.

All findings are photographed and added to the sitemap report. The findings on this report determine if Phase 2 is necessary.

Phase 2 of the Environmental Site Assessment

researcher inspecting dirtPhase 2 follows the guidelines covered on form ES-1903. During Phase 2, both surface water and soil samples are taken, as well as subsurface samples via drilling. If drums are located, seals are checked and samples of the immediate surroundings, as well as within the drums, are taken for analysis.

The results from all sample analyses determine if the ESA requires a Phase 3.

Phase 3 of the Environmental Site Assessment

Phase 3 is only necessary if contaminants are found on a property. A detailed look into how the hazardous material is affecting the environment and the best course of action moving forward is conducted.

If a certain percentage of the soil and water is negatively impacted, the risks of cleanup may be more damaging than leaving the site alone. If this is the case, the buyer will terminate the contract with the landowner, because the site cannot be developed.

If cleanup is possible without significant damage to the environment, the cost of cleaning and the equipment needed is calculated. After the contamination has been mitigated, a period of monitoring is required to evaluate the results of decontamination.

A report is compiled covering the hazardous material and all steps taken to alleviate the damage. After the monitoring period, a certificate of compliance will be awarded and property development can commence.

Craft Commercial Provides Peace of Mind

At Craft Commercial, we understand how challenging purchasing and assessing land can be on your own. If you have further questions about ESAs or need assistance making the right call on a new property, contact us at info@craftcommercial.com.

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