As a nationwide provider of environmental and engineering due diligence reports, including Phase 1 ESAs, I often get asked the question from my clients “Do I really need a Phase 1?”. The answer may surprise you. Of course, the simple answer is YES, only a Phase 1 ESA to ASTM E1527-05 and the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) All Appropriate Inquiry (AAI) standard can protect the User of the report against CERCLA liability. HOWEVER, there are many other limited environmental assessments that are used in the industry as a business decision tool for buying and/or lending on properties. These assessments, being limited in nature are generally faster and cheaper than a Phase 1 ESA. This is because these assessments are, for the most part, “pieces” of the Phase 1. For instance the Environmental Transaction Screen (ETS), which is so common it has its own ASTM standard (E1526-08), is a “mini” Phase 1 ESA of sorts. It includes a lot of the same elements, such as the database review, site reconnaissance and some limited historical review. Other assessments combine one or two of the Phase 1 Environmental scope items to tailor make the limited report. Prices range from $250 to $1400 depending on what is included, the site visit portion being the biggest driver of cost.
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