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Phase II Environmental Site Assessments – what are they and when do you need one? We’ve discussed Phase I ESAs extensively in the past and now we would like to share the benefits of a Phase II ESA.

A Phase II ESA is a follow-up assessment after a Phase I ESA, which is typically conducted during the due diligence phase of real estate transactions. A Phase I Assessment includes a site visit and a desktop review of the property history leading to findings that might identify a Recognized Environmental Condition or REC. 

The purpose of the Phase II Assessment is to further explore the REC and perform sampling of the environmental media to obtain a clearer understanding of the issue. Phase II sampling can involve surficial soil sampling, installation of soil borings and groundwater monitoring wells, sub-slab vapor or even indoor air quality sampling. 

The ASTM standard that describes the Phase II process is not as prescriptive as the Phase I ESA ASTM standard. This allows Tioga and our clients more flexibility to design the assessment scope according to the client’s needs. 


For example, if the Phase I ESA of the industrial property you are hoping to purchase identifies potential concerns with a historical leaking underground storage tank, the Phase II assessment could be designed to sample the soil and groundwater around the former tank. This assessment will detect contamination liabilities associated with the property. Another option we would also recommend is vapor sampling at the building to identify any exposure risks for occupants. As the purchaser, you could decide to only focus on the exposure risks for the building occupants and only want vapor and indoor air sampling. There is no legal or regulatory requirement to perform the comprehensive sampling.

In fact, there is no requirement to perform a Phase II ESA at all! If your Phase I ESA identifies RECs and you are comfortable taking on the risk, you can proceed with the purchase. However, if you want to clarify the potential extents of the contamination (or lack thereof), we can tailor the investigation to the property and client. Friendly disclaimer – we do always recommend talking to an environmental attorney before making these decisions.

If you are unsure if you want to undergo a Phase II ESA for the site you are planning to buy, contact our team today and we can take a look.