An Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) is a report prepared for real estate holding that identifies potential or existing environmental contamination liabilities.
The actual sampling of soil, air, groundwater and/or building materials is typically not conducted during a Phase I ESA. The Phase I ESA is generally considered the first step in the process of environmental due diligence. Standards for performing a Phase I site assessment have been promulgated by the US EPA and are based in part on ASTM in Standard E1527-13.
If a site is considered contaminated, a Phase II environmental site assessment may be conducted, ASTM test E1903, a more detailed investigation involving chemical analysis for hazardous substances and/or petroleum hydrocarbons
In 1998 the necessity of performing a Phase I ESA was underscored by congressional action in passing the Superfund Cleanup Acceleration Act of 1998. This act requires purchasers of commercial property to perform a Phase I study meeting the specific standard of ASTM E1527: Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process
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