Hydro Tech is Your One Stop for All Phase I Requirements
By Michael J. Fiscina, Vice President of Operations

In 1993 and 1994, the American Society for Testing and Materials (“ASTM”) established investigative protocols (ASTM E1527) to ensure that “all appropriate inquiry into the previous ownership and uses of the property consistent with good commercial or customary practice” was conducted by environmental consultants. It was intended to permit a user to satisfy one of the requirements to qualify for the innocent landowner defense to CERCLA liability. However, the 2001 Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act signed into law in January 2002 made sweeping changes to CERCLA that required a modification to the ASTM Standard in order to meet the USEPA’s definition of all appropriate inquiry. The modified Phase I standard (E1527-05), if followed, now permits a user to satisfy one of the requirements to qualify for CERCLA Landowner Liability Protections. In addition, the purpose of a Phase I ESA is to identify the potential presence of any Recognized Environmental Conditions, including, but not limited to, any signs of environmental mismanagement, past or present, that could potentially result in soil and/or groundwater contamination, and/or a cleanup liability at a particular site.

Many users of Phase Is don’t realize that some “Phase I” reports that they rely upon have not been conducted to the ASTM E1527-05 / AAI Standard, and/or are simple environmental investigations that are assumed to be Phase I Environmental Site Assessments. These limited-scope investigations can range from a simple environmental database search, a title search, site inspection, and/or some limited combination thereof, and would not be considered all appropriate inquiry into the previous ownership and uses of a particular property. A Phase I conducted to the ASTM E1527-05/ AAI Standard, must, at a minimum, include a detailed discussion (with backup documentation) of the existing and former use of a particular property and its surrounding area, a review of local, state, and federal environmental record sources, and a detailed report of findings that includes conclusions with respect to the presence or potential presence of any Recognized Environmental Condition in connection with the property. The report should also include recommendations for any additional environmental investigatory work based on the results of the Phase I investigation, and the report must state that it was prepared to the ASTM E1527-05 Standard, and if not, areas and/or items where the inspection and report deviate from the Standard. In summary, be sure your “Phase I” is truly a “Phase I”.

While the benefit of having a true Phase I conducted to the ASTM E1527-05 / AAI Standard are self evident, as their purpose is to identify the potential presence of any Recognized Environmental Conditions at a particular property, and if “all appropriate inquiry” has been satisfied, to qualify for the innocent landowner defense to CERCLA liability, another benefit is that if any conditions are uncovered after a Phase I has been conducted that were not identified in the Phase I report (and should have been as part of the Phase I process), the user has recourse against the environmental consultant and their insurance company to rectify the environmental problem. That is why the choice and use of a reputable and experienced environmental consulting firm with a proven track record and adequate insurance coverage is paramount when completing environmental due diligence at a particular property.

The staff of Hydro Tech Environmental has over 15 years experience in conducting environmental site assessments across the United States, having successfully completed over 4,000 Phase I ESAs throughout the country. Given our extensive experience and work across the country we are your “local” environmental firm from Long Beach, NY to Long Beach, CA, and are uniquely positioned in the industry to provide concise, timely, and cost-effective Phase I Environmental Site Assessments with a national reach for single properties to in excess of one-hundred (100) property portfolios. Our reports are specifically tailored to meet the needs of our clients, exceed the ASTM E1527-05 / AAI Standard , and include not only our findings and conclusions, but also recommendations on how to address any identified conditions.

We look forward to building a mutually beneficial working relationship with you and your team. If you have any questions or require any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact us at 631-462-5866.

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Hydro Tech is Your One Stop for All Phase I Requirements
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