Phase I and II Environmental Site Assessments: What You Need to Know

One of the biggest challenges buyers face when purchasing a property is evaluating what operations have taken place which might have an affect on environmental quality.  It is especially important to know whether contamination exist prior to purchase, because once the property changes hands, the obligation for cleanup usually rests with the new owner.  HSA Golden has performed countless Phase I and II Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) to address exactly this unknown.  These assessments are essentially a “baseline physical,” an evaluation of past and present conditions at and near the property which may indicate the presence of contamination.


Whether the property you are looking to purchase is in Florida or anywhere else in the United States, HSA Golden’s Phase I ESAs are performed in accordance with ASTM E1527-13 and EPA’s All Appropriate Inquiries Final Rule, 40 CFR Part 312.  The specific purpose of a Phase I ESA is to identify Recognized Environmental Conditions (RECs) associated with the site.  ASTM defines a REC as: The presence or likely presence of any hazardous substances or petroleum products in, on, or at a property (1) due to release to the environment, (2) under conditions indicative of a release to the environment, or (3) under conditions that pose a material threat of future release to the environment.

The Phase I ESA includes a review of readily available information, such as historical aerial photographs, environmental databases, and previous property ownership, combined with a reconnaissance of the site and surrounding area.  If RECs are identified when performing a Phase I ESA, and it is unknown whether these RECs may have negatively impacted soil, water, soil gas, or indoor air quality at the site, a Phase II ESA is typically recommended. 


While every site is different, most Phase II ESAs will involve collection of some kind of sample for chemical analysis, whether it is soil, groundwater, soil gas, surface water, or indoor air.  Samples can be collected via various sampling methodologies that include, but are not limited to, drilling soil borings (either using hand-operated or machine-operated equipment), installation of groundwater monitoring wells, installation of soil gas probes, or direct collection of air samples.  HSA Golden’s Field Technicians are fully equipped with all the necessary sampling equipment and instrumentation to successfully complete the field sampling component of a Phase II ESA.  All samples collected are chemically analyzed by a laboratory certified to perform the analyses in the particular state where the samples are collected.

Once received, HSA Golden personnel review the laboratory analytical data and compare the reported concentrations to applicable regulatory criteria.  If contaminant concentrations exceed regulatory limits, recommendations for additional testing may be made to determine how extensive the contamination is.  Such additional testing is critical in making informed decisions as to whether to proceed with purchasing a property.  For example, knowing the extent of petroleum-impacted soil or groundwater at a site will factor heavily when negotiating the selling price.


Hiring the right environmental engineering and consulting firm to perform a Phase I or II ESA is just as important as having a well-qualified lawyer draft the sales contracts, or as having an experienced doctor perform a physical examination.  You want to make sure you know as much as possible about a property and all the potential risks associated with it prior to closing.  Whether the property is one acre or 10,000 acres, our team of professionals at HSA Golden are ready to assist you with your project. Call HSA Goldenfor a free project evaluation at 407 649 5475