Learn when you do and don't need a Phase II Environmental Site Assessment.
When working with clients on Phase I Environmental Site Assessments, at one point or another the topic of a Phase II ESA comes up. Here we discuss times when you would, and wouldn't need a Phase II Environmental Site Assessment.
Many of our clients call us when they need environmental due diligence. We've found that many folks out there already know what a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment is (if you dont, click that link to learn more).
However, when it comes to Phase II work, there's more folks in the dark than I ever thought. Turns out many people don't know what is a Phase II Environmental Site Assessment (if you're in that boat, check that article out and learn more). So let's assume you know what both a Phase I and Phase II ESA are, the question we'd normally get from someone with that level of understanding is do I need one?
Do you need a Phase II Environmental Site Assessment?
Occasionally, but not always, we find the need to do a Phase II at a property. So the short answer is sometimes yes, sometimes no.
Many of our clients think the answer is always yes, and that's not the case. Most folks want to know why not, because they're either misinformed or needed to get a Phase II ESA in the past. Many of our clients think right off the bat they need a Phase II, and that's just not the case.
Here's some things to consider about Phase II Environmental Site Assessments:
A Phase I ESA does not automatically need a Phase II.
Anyone who says otherwise is lying and trying to steer you in the wrong direction. A Phase I ESA is conducted by an environmental professional (who meets certain qualifications) who makes judgments on the research and investigation of your property. His recommendations on further testing, sampling, or testing are necessary only when conditions warrant, based on their findings. And, all their findings should be backed up with facts and information. If nothing further is needed, nothing further should be done, and your environmental professional should say so. Make sure you review the findings if your feeling shaky about a Phase II.
A Phase II ESA is often a way for environmental professionals to recoup lost money on a cheap Phase I ESA.
Many in the "environmental business" who do Phase I Environmental Site Assessments for cheap prices will make it up in an expensive Phase II. We've seen it countless times. Think of it this way. You hired the low bidder for a Phase I ESA, and suprisingly they conclude you 'need' an expensive Phase II Environmental Site Assessment. A copy of the Phase I ESA goes to the bank or lending institution, and there's absolutely no way they'll let you off the hook for that additional work. You’re stuck. You have to get further work if you want the deal to proceed. And you’re stuck with whatever is recommended, regardless of the price. You could always walk away from the deal, but that's probably not what you want to do. We talk about the dangers of a cheap Phase I Environmental Site Assessment, based off what we've seen in the last 20+ years. It's worth the read if you're learning about Phase Is.
So I don't need a Phase II ESA?
No, not every Phase I Environmental Site Assessment should turn into further Phase II work. However, there are times when further work is absolutely justified. When there are conditions indicative of present or past releases of hazardous substances or petroleum products to the environment, you should absolutely be getting a Phase II. If there's the likely possibility of any releases, then further investigation is completely justified, and should be conducted in order to properly scope out conditions at the property. It’s up to the environmental professional to determine when, and why.
I’d be concerned if every Phase I turned into further Phase II work. While being ultra-conservative (and maybe that’s what you want), you’re also likely doing a lot of extra work, and paying a lot of unnecessary cost. If that's your case, you're taking a lot more time in the due diligence process than is probably necessary. There's no harm in doing a Phase II, but it's your call.
Environmental due diligence is no joke. It's serious, can get expensive, and your property is on the line. If you want an honest evaluation of your Phase I or Phase II needs, contact us here or call us at 609-693-8301.
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