Environmental health and safety (EHS) may not be first on your list of concerns when you have your eyes set on a building or property for your budding business. Unsightly EHS issues can be costly down the road if not dealt with properly prior to purchase, but environmental professionals can lend a helping hand to guide you through pre-purchase due diligence.

[su_heading size=”18″ align=”left”]When are Phase IIs Necessary?[/su_heading]

Performing a Phase I ESA is commonly the first step in investigating a property for potential environmental liabilities. Review of historical records, interviews with prior owners and neighbors, and site visits during this phase identify any activities, either at the site or at surrounding properties, that could have lead to contamination. If the results identify that the property has had exposure to harmful contaminants, a Phase II may be conducted.

Many times, sites that warrant Phase II ESAs are gas stations, hazardous waste storage facilities, manufacturing plants, and other high-risk sites.

[su_heading size=”18″ align=”left”]Scope of Work[/su_heading]

Performing a Phase II ESA is a more intrusive process than the preceding investigations, with the scope of working being specifically tailored to each site and situation using results from the Phase I. Environmental professionals delve deeper towards the source of the problems during this phase by collecting physical (soil/water) samples to have them tested. Testing intensity can range from simple soil sampling to installing groundwater monitoring wells.

[su_heading size=”18″ align=”left”]What Now?[/su_heading]

Environmental professionals will guide you through the next step in the process upon receipt and analysis of the lab results. They will be able to let you know if any further testing, monitoring, or remedial action is recommended to reduce or eliminate environmental liability of the site. In the case that extreme remedial efforts are recommended to clean up the property, they will also be able to walk you through current standards, and point you towards the most cost effective course of action that will yield the results you need. Additionally, you can use results from your ESAs to begin a dialogue regarding a purchase agreement for the property.

It can be unnerving to fathom the possibility that a property you have your sights set on poses environmental risks. Enlisting the help of an environmental professional to investigate your site is only the beginning of the process if any major issues are unearthed. Even so, it will save you time, money, headaches, and can increase your property value in the long haul.


Do you have any stories about environmental contamination becoming an issue during a property purchase? Let us know in the comments! 

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