What to Expect from a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment

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It turns out that you need to complete a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment. Well, surely you can find a lot of information online about Phase 1 ESA’s, but trying to make sense of it all can be a bit overwhelming. Not to worry – here’s what you need to know, in layman’s terms.

Let’s begin – what exactly is a Phase I ESA, why do you need it, and what should you expect during and after the assessment is completed?

What is Phase I ESA?

The Phase I ESA is a property assessment conducted to determine the levels and types of contaminants on a property. A property may be contaminated as a result of the activities that took place on the site (or nearby property.)

Why do you need a Phase 1 ESA?

Most of our clients come to us because they have been required to complete the Phase I ESA. However, if you’re selling commercial property, you can be proactive and complete the Phase I ESA and use as a marketing tactic. This proves to prospective buyers that you’re doing your due diligence while giving them one less thing to worry about.

What to expect from Phase 1 ESA

During the Phase I ESA, you can expect:

  1. A walkover of the property and other structures on the property
  2. A number of interviews with any people associated with the property, including owners, local government officials, occupants and neighbors
  3. A review of historic property information including maps, aerial photographs, deeds, telephone or address directories
  4. A review of contaminated properties in the vicinity of the subject property
  5. A summary of knowledgeable party information and review of prior reports
  6. A review of local, State and Federal files pertaining to the property address
  7. Items evaluated in the Phase I report include: tanks, drains, pits, spills, in-ground and aboveground equipment, petroleum and chemical use, and environmental liens
  8. Additional issues which may be included in the Phase I at the lenders or clients request include: wetlands, radon, asbestos, lead-based paint, and drinking water.

The length of time it takes depends on many factors. Therefore the scope varies project by project, but the average Phase I ESA is typically completed in two to four weeks.

The assessment must be completed by certified professionals in order for the results to be viable and actionable. If the results show that your site is contaminated, you have options on how to move forward. Some of these include:

  • Requiring the current owner to clean up the property before sale
  • Reduce the cost of the property
  • Commensurate with the cost of remediation required
  • Pursue acquisition and clean-up alternatives that help control your environmental liability for the property

Still have questions about Phase I ESA? GIve us a call at (503)-292-5346.


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