Environmental Health & Safety Assessments - from Phase I's to Compliance

Environmental Assessments

EHS assessments fall into several categories. These pages explain each type and try to assist you in selecting the right type of assessment and company to provide the services.

Environmental Site Assessments (also referred to as Phase I and Phase II Assessments)

What are Phase I Site Assessments?

Environmental site assessments are an vital tool for corporate managers, investors, borrowers, and lenders to meet legal, financial and ethical needs for due diligence research on being developed and vacant properties before purchase, sale, development, refinancing, or foreclosure. The threat of litigation over damage to natural resources or human health and the potential and actual cost of remedial action are important considerations with every property transaction. Environmental site assessments evaluate existing environmental problems from past operations and potential environmental problems from current or proposed operations at a site. The ASTM provides standards for:

  • Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs)
  • Phase II ESAs (Preliminary Contamination Assessments) - these involve sample collection and analysis
  • Phase III ESAs (Contamination Assessments) also commonly called remediation.

Most environmental site assessments performed in the U.S. (or overseas by global US-owned companies) are called Phase I assessments, because they are conducted in conformance with ASTM Standard Practice E 1527 and include the following components:

  • An inspection of the subject property
  • A review of pertinent records for evidence of present and historical use
    of the subject and adjacent properties
  • Interviews with current owners and occupants as well as local
    government officials
  • Evaluation of information gathered and development of a report
  • In some cases, samples are collected of building materials to determine if
    PCBs, asbestos and/or lead are present.
  • In some cases, additional sampling for soil or groundwater impairment is needed - this leads into a "Phase II" assessment.

Who Requests a Phase I?

Environmental site assessments are often conducted upon properties on behalf of banks, insurance companies, real estate financing companies, industrial companies, law firms, public institutions (e.g.,municipalities, school districts, universities), and government agencies.

Obviously, institutions with financial responsibility, such as banks, lenders, financiers, etc. want to ensure they do not buy a property that could become listed on a state superfund list, or simply require costly remediation in the future.

Landowners such as private companies and public institutions want to ensure that any property they acquire is either free of contamination, or that the contamination can be identified to determine the cost of remediation, and that cost be factored into the selling price.

Similarly, property owners who wish to sell a property often have a Phase I conducted before they put the property on the market in order to correct any problems found, thus getting a better price.

Typical Phase I ESA Report Outline

There is no precise format for the report (just the information to review, as found in ASTM 1527) but a good report is are designed to provide the client with as much
relevant information as possible in a format which is concise and easy to read.

  • EXECUTIVE SUMMARY - Summarizes all potential environmental concerns identified or disclosed to exist on a subject property or adjacent/near properties.
  • INTRODUCTION - Contains general information on the Purpose, Methodology, and Scope of Services for the Phase I ESA, as well as which parities granted Authorization and Access, a Definition of Subject Property Boundaries, the Warranty, and the Limitations of the Phase I ESA.
  • SUBJECT PROPERTY DESCRIPTION - Describes the Location, Immediate Boundaries, Dimensions, Function, Zoning, Improvements, Utilities, Topography and Drainage Patterns, Geology, and Soil Characteristics of a subject property.
  • ADJACENT/NEAR PROPERTIES DESCRIPTION - Describes the land use of
    properties immediately adjacent to and/or near the subject property to a distance at which potential environmental concerns on those properties will no longer represent a concern to the subject property.
  • HISTORICAL RESEARCH - Includes the reviews of historical information sources such as topographic maps, aerial photographs, city directories, fire insurance maps, and chain-of-title summaries in an effort to determine all past land uses of a subject property and adjacent properties.
  • REGULATORY AGENCIES RESEARCH - Lists the reviewed regulatory agency
    databases and summarizes the sites which are potential environmental concerns to the subject property.
  • INTERVIEWS AND OTHER INFORMATION - Presents information on a subject
    property or adjacent properties disclosed through persons knowledgeable about those properties, as well as other information including radon gas concentrations and wetlands status.
  • POTENTIAL ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS - Summarizes the available
    information on potential environmental concerns identified or disclosed to exist on a subject property or adjacent/near properties. Click here for a listing of the Potential Environmental Concerns addressed during a Phase I ESA.
  • OBSERVATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS - Presents the significant environmental concerns associated with a subject property or adjacent/near properties, and recommends what steps should be taken to address those concerns.
  • APPENDICES - Includes copies of reproducible information sources reviewed during the Phase I ESA, as well as an area vicinity map and a site diagram detailing any potential environmental concerns.

The Civilian federal Agency Task Force has put together an excellent guide; the "CFATF Guide on Evaluating Environmental Liability for Property Transfers" which you may download here free as a PDF file (approximately 61 pages).

You can obtain a copy of the ASTM 1527 (E-1527) standard directly from the ASTM here for $45.00 (EHSO makes NO profit from the sale and has no affiliation with the ASTM: ASTM E1527-05 Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process

For more information, or to have an environmental site assessment conducted, call EHSO (Benivia, LLC) at 770-645-0788 or email us

Compliance Assessments

Compliance assessments are designed to help businesses assess their overall level of compliance with environmental, health and safety requirements. They especially focuses upon the basic environmental requirements, plans, reports and documents which are required. Depending upon the nature of the facility being assessed, greater attention can be paid to certain specific areas of the regulation, such as water discharge rules for an electroplating company with a discharge into a stream, air emissions at a auto spray paint facility; or OSHA hazard communication compliance at a facility with many employees working with dangerous compounds.

A summary of the requirements and an explanation of the actions required to achieve compliance is provided in a quick, easy-to-understand and use format.

For more information and pricing, click here.

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