Digging Down Into ESA Phase II

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Editor’s Note: Our columnist for this segment is John Burkart, who has recently joined the GRS | Corteq team as director of Phase II and remediation services. John explains to us the basics of Phase II environmental assessment and will further provide remediation information , and how it’s making an impact on the industry in the future.

Once an Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) is completed and a Recognized Environmental Condition (REC) is identified the owner, the lender or seller may want to investigate further to determine the magnitude of impact. The impact may be associated with Underground Storage Tanks (USTs), historical operations, dry cleaners, spills or the release of harmful material on site.

Once the REC is identified, and further evaluated, there might need to be a Phase II Limited Subsurface Investigation order. A Phase II then attempts to piece together a puzzle of what has happened at the site. The Phase II will also attempt to look at the magnitude of contamination on the property. The results of the investigation might be associated with soil, groundwater, surface water, soil gas or indoor air. Based on the site and current conditions, drilling is performed to open that small window into the subsurface to extrapolate information related to the REC. If the magnitude is above screening levels established by federal, state or local environmental agencies, additional assessment and a more comprehensive assessment is need. At this point, the buyer or seller may terminate an agreement, or establish a contract to fix the problem discovered.

Investors are becoming more conservative to verify the potential impact at a site. Most investors want to understand the financial burden it may take to remediate the site, so a more conservative approach is ordered, which involves sampling soil, groundwater and soil gas.

Additionally, standards are always changing. Some standards such as USTs haven’t varied much, but risk-based assessment is always being evaluated to verify if the toxicology of the contaminant is applicable for the geology, hydrogeology and human exposure at a site.

GRS can assist the clients with knowledge. We have completed investigations throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico. GRS staff has also assisted in investigations outside of North America. The firm understands the geology, hydrogeology and cost associated with site cleanup, if needed. GRS can rapidly deploy to a site to assess the potential impact and provide a technical report, as well as an opinion of cost, if needed, on a rapid turnaround to meet the demand of the investor’s due-diligence time line.

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