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Phase II Environmental Site Assessment: What to Expect

If you suspect a property has contamination, a Phase II ESA is one of your best options for identifying potential liability and future cleanup costs prior to purchase.

What is a Phase II ESA?

A Phase II Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) is typically the second step in the environmental due diligence process and usually succeeds a Phase I ESA. Phase II ESAs include soil, soil vapor, and/or groundwater sampling, which will help determine if there is a presence or absence of hazardous substances and petroleum products in site media.

Why perform a Phase II ESA?

A Phase II ESA addresses recognized environmental conditions (RECs) identified in a Phase I ESA to determine if contamination is present, which helps a purchaser determine potential liability. Findings of the Phase II can also be used in negotiating the property value. Additionally, the Phase II ESA gives the purchaser the peace of mind that they know what they are buying.

When are Phase II ESAs performed?

Phase II ESAs are typically conducted prior to purchase or transfer of a property but may also be conducted for an existing owner. That way, if environmental contamination is identified, the purchaser can make an informed decision regarding their willingness to manage identified risks associated with the property.

What’s included in a Phase II ESA report?

A Phase II ESA report summarizes the scope of work and findings, which, based on project objectives, can include:

  • Field observations, screening results, and any other pertinent field information

  • Depth to groundwater

  • Laboratory analytical results

  • Comparisons to applicable state or federal screening or action levels

  • Discussion of contaminant concentrations (if applicable)

  • Suggestion for additional investigation to further delineate or characterize impacts if concentrations of certain compounds exceed the applicable screening or action levels


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