Posted by on September 12, 2016

In today’s world where every property is subject to potential environmental risks a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment or ESA is an appropriate action to take. An ESA can help determine if the property has been contaminated by previous or current activities.

The ESA can help protect the purchaser of a property from environmental risks prior to the closing on a property.  Lenders commonly require and ESA because it helps the lender determine if any environmental risks found could devalue the property or impact a borrower’s finances.

The Phase 1 includes 3 main components:

  1. Site Inspection – A thorough visual assessment of the property includes interior and exterior visual inspections and property lines.  The Phase 1 can detect current uses of the property that can contribute to pollution of soil, or groundwater.
  2. Record Reviews – Inspections identify adjacent properties and nearby sources of contamination.  Environmentally sensitive activities such as dry cleaners, gas stations, industrial operations, underground storage tanks and illegal dumping. Phase 1 inspections include regulatory record searches which may reveal known releases at or near the property. Historical records may reveal previous uses that could have contaminated the site.  For example a property currently occupied by a restaurant with no environmental concerns, but may have previously been a gas station many years ago with underground storage tanks.
  3. Interviews – Tenants and property owners have first hand information on prior uses of the property and a vital part of the Phase 1 ESA, but care should be taken since interviewees often have only partial information or incorrect information.  Supporting documentation will be required to back up interviews.

The Phase 1 ESA does not include:

Because the phase 1 focuses on hazardous contaminants or petroleum it may not pick up the following additional contaminants:

  • Mold
  • Asbestos
  • Water infiltration
  • Lead
  • Radon Gas

These items may be identified during the Phase 1, but further testing would be required to determine the presence or absence of these contaminants.

Who Can Perform a Phase 1 ESA?

The Phase 1 ESA must be performed by, or under the supervision of a qualified environmental professional.  That professional must have specific education and experience.  The data and conclusions of the ESA are provided in the Phase 1 ESA Report which is provided as a deliverable by the consultant performing the Phase 1 ESA.  The report will also provide recommendations for addressing problems, or concerns which may be followed up by a Phase 2.

GWS Environmental Contractors Inc. partners with a number of environmental consulting organizations.  Each of GWS’s partners provide expertise in environmental consulting from phase 1 through remedial action as well as professional witness services.  GWS is positioned to provide the real estate and development industries and legal professionals with environmental services, tank removals and professional services like phase 1 and remediation services. GWS can react quickly to real estate transactions that have environmental concerns before or during a real estate transaction closes. GWS performs services such as residential and commercial tank removals, soil and groundwater remediation, indoor air scrubbing using carbon filtration, vapor mitigation,

For more information on how GWS Environmental Contractors Inc. can help you please call us at 732-297-4847 or visit us on the web at