Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs)
Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) are reports prepared for real estate holders that identify potential or existing environmental contamination liabilities. The analysis addresses the underlying land as well as physical improvements to the property. Contaminated sites are also known as brownfields.
ESAs are categorized in 3 Phases:
Phase I – The first step in the process of environmental due diligence. This is a qualitative investigation that examines any soil contamination, groundwater quality, surface water quality and issues related to hazardous substance uptake by biota
Phase II – An intrusive, quantitative investigation where physical samples (soil, groundwater or building materials) are collected to analyze for contamination. This investigation is undertaken when a Phase I determines the likelihood of contamination.
Phase III – This involves the cleanup of a site based on the recommendations made in the Phase II Assessment. Phase IIIs involve intensive testing sampling and monitoring. They may also include the design of feasibility studies for remediation and remedial plans; alternative cleanup methods, costs and logistics; and details the steps taken to perform site cleanup and follow-up monitoring for residual contaminants.
The most common reasons for ESAs to be performed are:
- Purchase of real property by a person or entity not previously on title.
- Contemplation by a new lender to provide a loan on the subject real estate.
- Partnership buyout or principal redistribution of ownership.
- Application to a public agency for change of use or discretionary land use permit.
- Existing property owner’s desire to understand toxic history of the property.
- Compulsion by a regulatory agency who suspects toxic conditions on the site.
- Divestiture of properties