Often referred to as “21E’s”, WjF performs Phase I (Historical) Environmental Site Assessments for clients looking to buy or sell a commercial property. The term “21E”, often misconstrued and referred to as a report, is actually a chapter from Massachusetts General Laws (Chapter 21E). MGL Chapter 21E essentially states that a property owner is liable for cleaning up a property that has experienced a release of oil and / or hazardous material. Therefore, if you own the property, you own the problem. If you’re thinking of purchasing a commercial property, let WjF help protect you from unnecessary liability associated with historically contaminated property.
There are three main types of site assessment
The Phase I Assessment is the usual first step in evaluating a property, consisting of a comprehensive site inspection, interviews with key site personnel, and a detailed review of the available public records for the site. The purpose of a Phase I is to perform the ‘all appropriate inquiry’ in assembling a complete account of the site’s history and use, including current and historic hazardous materials use, records of underground storage tanks, impacts from neighboring properties, potential sources of contamination, and so on. Gathering of this information can aid in identifying recognized environmental conditions (RECs) in connection with the property if present.
The ASTM Transaction Screen Assessment (TSA) is less involved than the Phase I Assessment and does not include the intense research into the site’s history and environmental setting. This type of assessment is better-suited to properties where the site’s history is already known, or in other situations where a Phase I assessment is not required. A TSA is a cost-effective environmental due diligence report to evaluate the environmental liability of a site. But, unlike the Phase I ESA, a TSA does not meet the requirements of an ASTM Phase I, and thus, does not collect sufficient information to identify recognized environmental conditions (RECs).
The Phase II Assessment is a limited program of sampling soil, groundwater, or other media, with analysis by a certified third-party environmental laboratory. The scope of a Phase II assessment can vary greatly from one site to another. Phase II assessments are usually conducted in the event that a Phase I or Transaction Screen identified the potential for a release of hazardous material or petroleum on the site (i.e., recognized environmental conditions). The scope of work for a Phase II ESA is typically developed from the information gathered in the Phase I report, including what contaminants to test for, where samples should be collected from, and what regulatory standards to use when evaluating laboratory results.