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"An Integrated Approach to Real Property Inspection"
Fusion's Environmental Assessment Services

Fusion provides Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessments and Transaction Screening for existing buildings and building lots. Our inspections meet the rigorous Standards of the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM International) E 1527-00.

Limited Environmental Assessment

The Limited Environmental Assessment is used as informational purposes only. This assessment is often referred to as a Screening Report. The report may help the client make a good business decision early on in the process without wasting time and money. In most cases, lending institutions will not accept this level of due diligence; however, it is a way to get a snap-shot of the site prior to moving forward. If the client decides to continue with interest in the site, Fusion will apply the charges for the Screening Report to the cost of the Phase I Environmental Assessment for the property.

The Limited Environmental Assessment Report (Screening Report) will include the following:

Local, State and Federal government environmental database search;
Review of at least one readily available historical record (aerial photographs, Sanborn fire insurance maps),
Written analysis of nearby listed properties of concern to determine potential impact to the subject property,
Review of interview with current owner,
A limited conclusion regarding potential environmental risk.

A Screening Report is recommended for sites that past uses included: residential, churches, office and apartment buildings. The report will not be recommended for sites that past uses included any of the following: industrial, manufacturing, agricultural, gas stations and dry cleaners.

Please note that this initial report may indicate a need to do the more intensive Phase I Environmental assessment to make any recommendations about the site.

Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment

A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (Phase 1) can be used as a risk management tool for current owners, lenders and potential purchasers of property. These properties can be residential, industrial, commercial, and agricultural uses. The purpose of a Phase I is to identify potential and/or recognized environmental concerns and conditions associated with the subject property. The process involves:

Research into the historical land uses of the subject and neighboring properties,
Research into local, state, and federal regulatory environmental files and databases for the subject property, and
A site reconnaissance of the subject and neighboring properties.
The outcome of the research is a detailed organized concise report summarizing the potential and/or recognized Environmental Concerns related to the site. The report will also offer recommendations, which may include filling of data-gaps and the potential for sampling of groundwater and soils on the site.
It is important to note that there is no actual soil or groundwater sampling conducted during the Phase I process.

The results of the Phase I report can be used to offer assurance to potential purchasers, brownfields developers and lenders that they are acquiring property without environmental liability or assist them with decisions regarding the management of environmental risks. Our Phase I reports will meet the requirements of All Appropriate Inquiry (AAI) as described in the Federal Register 40 CFR Part 312 dated November 1, 2005, if requested. BES will discuss with the client as to if the requirements of AAI is needed. If AAI is followed, the report also can be used as a defense of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) for innocent landowner.

All Appropriate Inquiries Requirement (AAI)    View EPA's All Appropriate Inquiries Rule in .pdf format

1.Enforceable as of November 1, 2006
2.New ASTM Standard for the Rule is:ASTM 1527-05
3.Defines the term Environmental Professional (EP) and establishes qualifications for those performing Phase I ESAs (hold a current Professional Engineer or Professional Geologist license or registration from a state, tribe, or U.S. territory (or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico) and have the equivalent of three years of full-time relevant experience OR 4 year Baccalaureate degree in any engineering or science field with five years of full-time relevant experience OR ten years of full-time relevant experience).
4.In addition to interviewing current owners and occupants of the subject property, an interview with past owners and occupants must be conducted as necessary [Section 312.20(e)-(f)].
5.Interview with neighboring or nearby property owners or occupants must be conducted if the subject property is abandoned.
6.Previous use of the property needs to be described from the present back to when the property first contained structures or was developed for residential, commercial, agricultural, industrial or governmental purposes
7.More information requested from the User of the report (person for whom the report is being prepared).
8.AAI rule requires identification of records of Activity and Use Limitations (AULs) and Environmental Cleanup Liens.
9.In addition to the review of federal and state records, the ESA must include a review of (all) local and tribal records within the required search distance of the Property.
10.Visual inspection of the subject property AND adjoining properties is required (limited exemption with specific requirements if the subject property cannot be inspected).
11.AAI rule looks at the relationship of the purchase price compared with the fair market value of the property which may indicate contamination at the property.
12.Data gaps must be identified with the significance of the data gap with regard to the ability of the EP to identify conditions indicative of releases and threatened releases
13.New Rule and standard will raise the cost of a Phase I ESA.
14.Shelf-life of Phase I report is specified as one year with some updates required after 180 days.
What is an ESA?

A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment is a report prepared for a real estate holding which identifies potential or existing environmental contamination liabilities. The analysis, often called a Phase I ESA, typically addresses both the underlying land as well as physical improvements to the property; however, techniques applied in a Phase I ESA never include actual collection of physical samples or chemical analyses of any kind. Scrutiny of the land includes examination of potential soil contamination, groundwater quality, surface water quality and sometimes issues related to hazardous substance uptake by biota. The examination of a site may include: definition of any chemical residues within structures; identification of possible asbestos containing building materials; inventory of hazardous substances stored or used on site; assessment of mold and mildew; and evaluation of other indoor air quality parameters.

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. This type of study is alternatively called a Level I Environmental Site Assessment. Standards for performing a Phase I site assessment have been promulgated by the US EPA and are based in part on ASTM in Standard E1527-05. 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.

What Triggers an ESA?

A variety of actions can cause a Phase I study to be performed for a commercial property, the most common being:
Purchase of real property by a person or entity not previously on title.
Contemplation by a new lender to provide a loan on the subject real estate.
Partnership buyout or principal redistribution of ownership.
Application to a public agency for change of use or other discretionary land use permit.
Existing property owner’s desire to understand toxic history of the property.
Compulsion by a regulatory agency who suspects toxic conditions on the site.
Divestiture of properties

What is the Scope of an ESA?

Depending upon precise protocols utilized, there are a number of variations in the scope of a Phase I study. The tasks listed here are extremely common to almost all Phase I ESAs:

Performance of an on-site visit to view present conditions (chemical spill residue, die-back of vegetation, etc) ; hazardous substances or petroleum products usage (presence of above ground or underground storage tanks, storage of acids, etc.); and evaluate any likely environmentally hazardous site history.
Evaluation of risks of neighboring properties upon the subject property
Interview of persons knowledgeable regarding the property history (past owners, present owner, key site manager, present tenants, neighbors).
Examine municipal or county planning files to check prior land usage and permits granted
Conduct file searches with public agencies (State water board, fire department, county health department, etc) having oversight relative to water quality and soil contamination issues.
Examine historic aerial photography of the vicinity.
Examine current USGS maps to scrutinize drainage patterns and topography.
Examine chain-of-title for Environmental Liens and/or Acidity and Land Use Limitations (AULs).

In most cases, the public file searches, historical research and chain-of-title examinations are outsourced to information services that specialize in such activities. Commercial enterprises that conduct such activities include Environmental Data Resources (EDR), FirstSeach Technologies, and several major title insurance businesses.
Non-Scope Items in a Phase I Environmental Site Assessments can include visual inspections or records review searches for:

Asbestos Containing Building Materials (ACBM)
Lead-Based Paint
Lead in Drinking Water
Threatened and Endangered Species
Earthquake Hazard
Vapor Intrusion

Who Prepares an ESA?

Often a multi-disciplinary approach is taken in compiling all the components of a Phase I study, since skills in chemistry, atmospheric physics, geology, microbiology and even botany are frequently required. Many of the preparers are environmental scientists who have been trained to integrate these diverse disciplines.

Under ASTM E 1527-05 parameters were set forth as to who is qualified to perform Phase I ESAs. The new parameter defined an Environmental Professional as someone with 1) a current Professional Engineer's or Professional Geologist's license or registration from a state or U.S. territory with 3 years equivalent full-time experience; 2) have a Baccalaureate or higher degree from an accredited institution of higher education in a discipline of engineering or science and 5 years equivalent full-time experience; or 3) have the equivalent of 10 years full-time experience.

A person not meeting one or more of those qualifications may assist in the conduct of a Phase I ESA if the individual is under the supervision or responsible charge of a person meeting the definition of an Environmental Professional when concluding such activities.

Most site assessments are conducted by private companies independent of the owner or potential purchaser of the land.
There are several other report types that have some resemblance in name or degree of detail to the Phase I Environmental

Other Site Assessments:

Phase II Environmental Site Assessment is an investigation which collects original samples of soil, groundwater or building materials to analyze for quantitative values of various contaminants. This investigation is normally undertaken when a Phase I ESA determines a likelihood of site contamination. The most frequent substances tested are petroleum hydrocarbons, heavy metals, pesticides, solvents, asbestos and mold.

Phase III Environmental Site Assessment is an investigation involving remediation of a site. This study normally involves assessment of alternative cleanup methods, costs and logistics. The associated reportage details the steps taken to perform site cleanup and the follow-up monitoring for residual contaminants.

Limited Phase I Environmental Site Assessment is a truncated Phase I ESA, normally omitting one or more work segments such as the site visit or certain of the file searches. When the field visit component is deleted the study is sometimes called a Transaction Screen.

Environmental Assessment has little to do with the subject of hazardous substance liability, but rather is a study preliminary to an Environmental Impact Statement, which identifies environmental impacts of a land development action and analyzes a broad set of parameters including biodiversity, environmental noise, water pollution, air pollution, traffic, geotechnical risks, visual impacts, public safety issues and also hazardous substance issues.

"An Integrated Approach to Real Property Inspection"
Fusion Inspection Services - Environmental Site Assessment
Commercial Building Services
Serving the Chicago Metropolitan Area

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