What Are Environmental Site Assessments?

In order for a company or an individual to develop property in the United States, an environmental site assessment report must be prepared. This report identifies existing or potential environmental contamination liabilities that may be present on the property. You can also look for phase 2 environmental assessment online.

This analysis, which is also known as an ESA, typically takes a look at the physical improvements that may have been done to the property over the years as well as the underlying land. 

If a site is added to the National Priorities List it will be subject to the United States Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund program.

There are two possible phases to an environmental site assessment. The first is a Phase I ESA. In this phase, the air, soil, groundwater, and/or building materials usually are not sampled. Instead, this phase is looked at as the first part of the environmental due diligence process.

Some things that are common to all Phase I ESAs are:

• An on-site visit to attempt to determine the present conditions of the site. This includes any chemical spill residues, hazardous substances, underground or above ground storage tanks for substances such as petroleum products or acids, and the evaluation of any likely history that indicates that the site is likely to be environmentally hazardous.

• An evaluation of the risks that the neighboring properties might incur.

• Interviews of people who are knowledgeable about the history of the property. The interviews usually include the present as well as past owners of the property, the present tenants, neighbors, and the key manager of the site.

• Municipal, county, and public agency files are examined.

• Historic aerial photos of the area are examined

• Current USGS maps are examined to determine the topography and to see if there are any drainage patterns.