One of the most common calls we receive is from a property buyer trying to determine the risk associated with a piece of land or building they want to purchase. We always recommend a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment and, many times, our clients will ask if we can just proceed straight to a Phase II ESA. The answer is almost always no and for good reason.
A Phase I ESA helps us understand the history of the property and what potential releases may have occurred there or on surrounding properties. The process requires a site visit and records review. The information gathered in the first phase provides proper direction for the investigation involved in a Phase II ESA. Without a Phase I ESA, you may not be aware of the different types of hazardous materials on the site or neighboring sites. A Phase I ESA gives direction for which specific samples, such as groundwater, soil and vapor, should be taken in a Phase II ESA to confirm whether the threat of release is real. Sometimes, a Phase I ESA will report that contaminants have been properly stored at the site, and there is no potential for discharge into the environment.
For example, if a gasoline station once was located next door to the property in question, a Phase II ESA might only investigate petroleum constituents along that property line. Or, if a gas station had been located on the subject property, we might need to take samples throughout the property. Conversely, if we find in a Phase I ESA that the gas station is in good standing with the state’s underground storage tank program and recently installed new tanks, there may be no reason to suspect a discharge or investigate further in a Phase II ESA.
The one exception to this recommendation is when time will not allow the methodical research and the cost of the investigation is not a concern. In that case, Tioga can perform a full screen across the property of multiple constituents to cover the various environmental concerns that could be present. To feel confident with this approach, soil, groundwater and vapor need to be sampled for an array of constituents. Typically, this cost is not worth the amount of time it saves.
So, leave time in the due diligence process, call us early at 901-791-2432 and have a Phase I ESA performed to put your mind at ease. Learn more about our work in environmental assessments.