What to Do If Your Phase II ESA Has Environmental Concerns?


A Phase II Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) follows a Phase I study. The Phase II study involves conducting various sampling activities to determine the presence of hazardous materials in the soil. A Phase II assessment is much more invasive than a Phase I as it conducts a more detailed study to assess the hazards. Subject to the findings, the concerned parties will decide whether to proceed with the project or conduct further studies for risk minimization.

What To Do If Your Phase II ESA Has Environmental Concerns?

Numerically, 1 precedes 2. Similarly, Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) precedes the Phase II ESA. ESA is all about studying potential & actual environmental contamination, resulting from unscientific hazardous waste disposal – a risk which many organizations face when they acquire a new property for conducting business.

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Phase I ESA

In Phase I ESA, officials inspect the site, go through the relevant records, and take the feedback of owners, occupants & neighbors regarding any environmental concerns.

There can be many reasons why the property can test positive for contamination – either from activities undertaken at that site itself or at some other nearby site. The records available will bear testimony to this fact. If preliminary studies do suggest some contamination, then the situation will necessitate a Phase II Environmental Assessment.

Phase II ESA

A Phase II Environmental Site Assessment is a much more in-depth study of the surface & subsurface region of the suspected site. A Phase I study will mark areas as having potential environmental concerns. The Phase II study will determine whether these areas actually pose a threat to the environment.

What Does Phase II ESA Involve?

A Phase II Environmental Assessment involves the following:

  • Collecting samples of the groundwater, surface water, soil & sediment
  • Boring the subsurface soil
  • Conducting a survey of the site & studying the flow of groundwater to understand the direction of the same. This can also be conducted on a neighboring property if the expert team suspects that, that particular property is the source of the contamination
  • Conducting geophysical tests for buried tanks
  • Conducting tests on underground storage tanks
  • Conducting a chemical analysis of the samples that the team collected, in line with the set parameters
  • Doing a detailed risk management analysis by interpreting the data
  • Preparing an exhaustive report which includes all the findings and a conclusion which suggests further actionable

For How Long Is The Phase II ESA Valid?

A Phase II Environmental Site Assessment is not valid for eternity. A property might continue to operate under the same conditions after the testing. Depending on the type of the organization, the Phase II ESA will have varying shelf lives.

What Happens If Your Property Shows Phase II NSA Issues?

A shocking reality has dawned on you. The Phase II Environmental Site Assessment report has mentioned that the property you own has been affected by contamination. What do you do now?

You would need to “clean up the place.” You might also need to quote a lower price to a prospective buyer than what you did earlier – as the potential buyer would factor in the cleanup cost in the purchase price.

You would also need to undertake the following measures:

  • Make an estimation of remedial cost measures
  • Identify the presence of any contaminant of potential concern even after you have taken sufficient corrective measures
  • Summarize the quantum of risks that the pollutants are posing
  • Don’t compromise on the quality of the Phase II Environmental Site Assessment report. Quite often, two-timers posing as consultants will quote a rock bottom rate for the assessment. They will also reduce their scope of work significantly, so the entire exercise won’t be of any value.

Hence, do remember that it isn’t the end of the road for you, yet. Please do implement the suggested recommendations of the expert after Phase II issues – and keep working without a worry!

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