Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessments

Why Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessments are Important

The U.S. EPA established the Innocent Landowners Defense from superfund liability for commercial property owners in 1986.  The initial requirement covered:

  • Purchasers who acquire property without knowledge of contamination on the property.
  • Governments acquiring contaminated property involuntarily or through the exercise of eminent domain authority by purchase or condemnation.
  • Inheritors of contaminated property.

The main criteria for this defense was that the prospective purchaser must use due diligence to investigate for the potential occurrence of contamination.

Much has changed since 1986.  The American Society for Testing Standards (ASTM International) developed standards that met the EPA requirements.  As EPA periodically revisits and updates their standards, the ASTM updates their standards to meet EPA requirements.

TERRASAT follows the most current ASTM standard, E1527-13, Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process.  This current standard meets EPA’s definition of All Appropriate Inquiries.

Environmental Site assessments include:

  • A visual site inspection
  • A review of historical aerial photographs
  • Interviews with past property owners or individuals with knowledge of the property
  • A review of both State and Federal records
  • A determination of potential contamination migrating onto the property from surrounding contaminated sites
  • A determination of the likelihood that significant contamination likely occurs on the property.

What is the benefit of conducting a Phase 1 Site assessment at the time of purchase?

The State of Alaska created statues that follow federal CERCLA requirements.

One significant difference is that the State of Alaska includes petroleum contamination as part of the contamination statutes.  Therefore, if a purchaser of commercial property in Alaska wishes to be covered by the innocent Landowners Defense, they must conduct an Environmental Site Assessment (Phase 1) investigation and meet the ASTM E1527-13 standards.  Lending institutions generally require Environmental Site Assessments to limit their liability.

Call Terrasat, Inc today at 1-907-344-9370 to discuss your specific site assessment needs.


Additional references for phase 1 environmental site assessments: