MeritCorp - Civil Engineering, Environmental Science, Land Planning, Land Surveying

MeritCorp Environmental Services

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WHAT IS A PHASE I ENVIRONMENTAL SITE ASSESSMENT?

A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) is a report prepared for a purchaser and/or real estate holding that identifies potential or existing environmental contamination liabilities. The analysis typically addresses both the underlying land, the physical improvements to the property as well as the adjoining properties. The Phase I ESA is generally considered the first step in the process of environmental due diligence.

Standards for performing a Phase I ESA have been promulgated by the US Environmental Protection Agency and are based on ASTM Standards . The actual sampling of soil, air, groundwater and/or building materials is typically not conducted during a Phase I ESA. * Interpreting the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), the U.S. courts have held that a buyer, lessor, or lender may be held responsible for remediation of hazardous substance residues, even if a prior owner caused the contamination; performance of a Phase I ESA, according to the courts’ reasoning, creates a safe harbor, known as the 'Innocent Landowner Defense' for such a new purchaser or their lenders.

 

REASON FOR CONDUCTING A PHASE I ESA:

Phase I ESAs are often required for commercial and industrial property transactions and are a great way for potential purchasers or lenders to minimize their environmental liabilities. A Phase I ESA can save the purchaser countless dollars in remediation costs and prevent project delays.

 

WHAT IS A PHASE II ENVIRONMENTAL SITE ASSESSMENT?

A Phase II ESA may be needed if the Phase I ESA identifies evidence of potential or existing contamination that would require a more thorough examination of the property. A Phase II ESA consists of collecting and analyzing soil samples and/or groundwater samples to check for contamination. A Phase II ESA performed before a property transfer can help minimize exposure to environmental liabilities and cleanup costs.

 

STORAGE TANKS

Underground Storage Tanks (USTs) and Above Ground Storage Tanks (ASTs) can be an environmental risk and a safety hazard. ASTs and USTs often contain a type of fuel such as gasoline or heating oils that can leak out and cause the surrounding soil and properties to become contaminated. Risk assessment prior to buying can save property owners from the extensive costs of an environmental clean-up and tank removal or replacement. Determining the condition and/or presence of ASTs and USTs prior to beginning a construction project can save time and money and avoid costly construction delays.

 

CLOSURE – NO FURTHER REMEDIATION (NFR) LETTER

A No Further Remediation (NFR) letter can be used to assist in a property transfer by informing the buyer and/or seller of the environmental site conditions. A NFR letter, issued by the State’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or Department of Natural Resources (DNR), acknowledges that the site owner or operator has satisfied the respective laws and regulations regarding clean-up objectives. Especially in the case of an industrial property, when it may be unclear what the property is worth due to risk assessment and/or potential contamination issues. Having a NFR letter can minimize the impact of environmental issues during the negotiating process, thereby potentially upholding the property’s value.

 

ASBESTOS SURVEY

During the late 19th century and into the mid 1970’s, asbestos was used in construction because of its fire protective and sound insulating properties. Asbestos can be found in products such as plaster, tile, and several types of insulation. Before beginning a remodeling or demolition project where there are questions regarding existing construction materials, an asbestos survey is recommended to determine if asbestos is present.

 

CLEAN CONSTRUCTION OR DEMOLITION DEBRIS

According to the Illinois EPA, Clean Construction or Demolition Debris (CCDD) is defined as:

“Uncontaminated broken concrete without protruding metal bars, bricks, rock, stone, or reclaimed asphalt pavement generated from construction or demolition activities. When uncontaminated soil is mixed with any of these materials, the uncontaminated soil is also considered CCDD”.

If a property contains CCDD and is considered to be ‘potentially impacted property’, then ANY soil from that property must be evaluated, sampled and certified by a licensed professional engineer before it can be placed off-site. What is required to dispose of “contaminated” soil?

 

FOR SOIL, MERITCORP WILL:

• Collect sample(s) of the soil material and have it analyzed at an accredited laboratory for waste characterization.
• Complete a waste profile sheet.
• Obtain approval from a permitted landfill. What is required to dispose of “clean” soil in a CCDD fill operation?

For soil, MeritCorp will obtain EITHER:
• A certification from the owner/operator of the site from which the soil was removed that the site has never been used for commercial or industrial purposes and is presumed to be uncontaminated soil*.
Or
• A certification from a licensed Professional Engineer (P.E.) that the soil is uncontaminated soil. A licensed P.E. MUST sign the certification if the site of origin is commercial and/or industrial*.
And
• Must confirm the CCDD or uncontaminated soil was not removed from the site as part of a cleanup or removal of contaminants* *Environmental Protection Act [415 ILCS 5/22.51(f)(2)(B)]

 

CONSULTING / REPORT REVIEW

Do you have questions regarding an existing environmental report on your property? We can help review the report and discuss the findings. Contact us at 630-554-6655 or email info@meritcorp.com for more information and pricing.