Phase I and II Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs)

Blacktrail Environmental, Inc. specializes in Phase I and II Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) at affordable prices! Blacktrail professionals have completed over 2,500 Phase I ESAs across the country for lenders, investors, real estate trusts, public agencies, E&A firms, individual borrowers, airport and housing authorities, oil companies, Small Business Association (SBA), and the USEPA. Our professionals specialize in conducting Phase I and II ESAs on hard-to-perform industrial and oil-field facilities. We pride ourselves on completing our reports in less time than other consulting firms, at the lowest prices; and we provide the most comprehensive reports with the appropriate conclusions and recommendations. We can even include items outside of the traditional ASTM guidelines such as sampling for asbestos, lead-based paint, radon, and radioactive materials.


Phase I ESAs are performed in conformance with ASTM E1527-13 Guidelines with respect to the range of contaminants within the scope of Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) (42 U.S.C. 9601) and petroleum products. As such, the performance of a Phase I ESA by a qualified environmental professional (greater than 10-years of experience performing Phase I ESAs) is intended to permit a user to satisfy one of the requirements to qualify for the innocent landowner, contiguous property owner, or bona fide prospective purchaser limitations on CERCLA liability. 

Blacktrail's Phase I ESAs meet the definition of the standard of good commercial and customary practice for an environmental site assessment of a parcel of  property, the goal of the processes established by this practice is to identify "recognized environmental conditions". The term "recognized environmental conditions" means the presence or likely presence of any  hazardous substances or petroleum products on a property under conditions that indicate an existing release, a past release, or a material threat of a release of any  hazardous substances or petroleum products into structures on the property or into the ground, ground water, or surface water of the property. The term includes hazardous substances or petroleum products even under conditions in compliance with laws. The term is not intended to include de minimis conditions that generally do not present a threat to human health or the environment and that generally would not be the subject of an enforcement action if brought to the attention of appropriate governmental agencies. Conditions determined to be de minimis are not recognized environmental conditions.


Petroleum Products are included within the scope of this practice because they are of concern with respect to many parcels of commercial real estate and current custom and usage is to include an inquiry into the presence of petroleum products when doing an environmental site assessment of commercial real estate. Inclusion of petroleum products within the scope of this practice is not based upon the applicability, if any, of CERCLA to petroleum products. 


CERCLA "Appropriate Inquiry" - A Phase I ESA does not address whether requirements in addition to all appropriate inquiry have been met in order to qualify for the LLPs (for example, the duties specified in 42 U.S.C. 9607(b)(3)(a) and (b) and cited in Appendix X1, including the continuing obligation not to impede the integrity and effectiveness of  activity and use limitations (AULs), or the duty to take reasonable steps to prevent releases, or the duty to comply with legally required release reporting obligations).


Other Federal, State, and Local Environmental Laws - Phase I ESAs do not address requirements of any state or local laws or of any federal laws other than the all appropriate inquiry provisions of the LLPs. Users are cautioned that federal, state, and local laws may impose environmental assessment obligations that are beyond the scope of this practice. Users should also be aware that there are likely to be other legal obligations with regard to hazardous substances or petroleum products discovered on the property that are not addressed in this practice and that may pose risks of civil and/or criminal sanctions for non-compliance.


Considerations Beyond Scope - Phase I ESAs are strictly limited to the scope set forth in ASTM Guidelines. A section of this practice identifies, for informational purposes, certain environmental conditions (not an all-inclusive list) that may exist on a property that are beyond the scope of a Phase I ESA but may warrant consideration by parties to a commercial real estate transaction. The need to include an investigation of any such conditions in the environmental professional's scope of services should be evaluated based upon, among other factors, the nature of the property and the reasons for performing the assessment (for example, a more comprehensive evaluation of business environmental risk) and should be agreed upon between the  user and environmental professional as additional services beyond the scope of this practice prior to initiation of the environmental site assessment process.


Sections of the main body of the Phase I ESA include evaluation and report preparation. Section  provides additional information regarding non-scope considerations. The appendices are included for information and are not part of the procedures prescribed in this practice. Phase I ESAs, as required in the "All Appropriate Inquiry" Final Rule (40 C.F.R. Part 312) and provides an optional User Questionnaire to assist the user and the environmental professional in gathering information from the user that may be material to identifying recognized environmental conditions. Persons conducting an  environmental site assessment as part of an EPA Brownfields Assessment and Characterization Grant awarded under CERCLA 42 U.S.C. 9604(k)(2)(B) must include controlled substances as defined in the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 802) within the scope of the assessment investigations to the extent directed in the terms and conditions of the specific grant or cooperative agreement. Additionally, an evaluation of business environmental risk associated with a parcel of commercial real estate may necessitate investigation beyond that identified in this practice.


Call for Blacktrail's expert advice following the completion of the Phase I ESA report and we can discuss your next step in the process. Again, our professionals have been performing Phase I ESAs for over 30 years. Our staff is looking forward to assisting you with your environmental liabilities!

Phase II Subsurface Investigation in Dickinson, North Dakota

* Supplemental information on this page was provided by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). Photographs were taken during actual Phase I ESA activities by Blacktrail Environmental Professionals.