Although the type of property (undeveloped/developed/industrial) being assessed may itself help predict recognized environmental conditions, DAY performs certain tasks regardless of the current use of the property. These tasks are essential elements of "due diligence" and constitute the "appropriate inquiry" needed to afford the client one of the Landowner Liability Protections under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) (i.e., protection as an "innocent landowner," “bona fide prospective purchaser,” or “contiguous property owner.”)
(i) Historical File Review
DAY determines prior ownership and any apparent use of the site through review of an abstract of title furnished by the client. In addition to title review, historical review includes available resources such as historic aerial photographs, street directories, land use maps, and available prior environmental reports. A historical file review is performed whether the property is undeveloped or developed.
(ii) Governmental Agency Review
There are many governmental agencies which may have useful information about an assessed property. Appropriate agencies are contacted as part of the Phase I ESAs, including the State’s Department of Environmental Conservation or equivalent (DEC), State or County Health Departments, and Town/City offices. In addition, regulatory databases maintained by the State’s DEC, and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), (i.e., CERCLIS, NPL, Petroleum Bulk Storage database, etc.) are reviewed in order to determine if the assessed property or properties within the specified radii are included on these databases.
An interview with the owner and occupant(s) (if applicable) of the assessed property is conducted. The people interviewed are asked for information regarding types of materials used, types of waste streams, historic releases, prior use of the property, and any knowledge of the use of hazardous substances, petroleum products, or other potentially hazardous substances on the assessed property or the surrounding properties. The people interviewed are also asked for information about the assessed property in regard to any pending litigation, administrative proceedings, or notices from governmental entities relative to environmental matters. Additionally, if it appears that past owners, operators and/or occupants of the assessed property are likely to have material information regarding potential for contamination at the assessed property, an attempt is made to interview those parties: (1) if they can be identified and their contact information can be obtained through readily-available information sources, and (2) if the information likely to be obtained is not duplicative of the information already obtained from other sources.
(iv) Physical Site Visit
A site visit is conducted to observe for a wide range of recognized environmental conditions. The number and scope of matters considered during the site visit depends upon the extent and nature of the current and/or prior development of the property. These similarities and differences in scope and approach are further discussed below.
All Assessed Properties
Regardless of the nature of the property, a physical site visit includes observation for general topography, grade and visual evidence of surface water, groundwater and soil contamination; availability and use of utilities; the presence of any distressed vegetation; ground surface irregularities such as trenches, pits and mounds or piles which may indicate burial of material or subsidence from prior burials; the presence of suspect earthen fill; possible use of pesticides and/or herbicides; any unusual odors; and the apparent uses and conditions of adjoining properties.
In practice, it cannot be assumed that a property is truly undeveloped because historical review, agency review or site visit information may indicate that land now vacant was once developed (i.e., prior buildings have since been demolished). A site visit of vacant and apparently undeveloped land includes the elements discussed above for All Assessed Properties, as well as observation for such things as visual signs of the presence and location of underground tanks and pipelines, and any electrical equipment which may contain PCBs.
A site visit of a developed property includes the elements discussed above for All Assessed Properties and Undeveloped Properties, as well as observations for such things as visual signs of drains and sumps and their points of discharge, as warranted; visual evidence of spilled materials; utilities and connections; heating fuels delivery and storage capabilities and practices; sanitary sewer and/or septic connection and operation; and availability and source of drinking water.
A site visit of an industrial property includes the elements discussed above for All Assessed Properties, Undeveloped Properties and Developed Properties, as well as an inquiry into the operations of present and former occupants; the materials used in those operations and their disposal methods; observations for visual signs of storage and handling of any hazardous materials; procedures for disposal of hazardous wastes; connections to and between tanks, drum storage and delivery facilities; the presence of any petroleum, chemical or other unusual odors; any on-site wastewater generation, treatment or disposal; and industrial air/gas emissions.
Documentation and results of the Phase I ESA are presented in a written report that is in general conformance with the scope and limitations of ASTM Practice E1527-05. The report summarizes the scope and findings of the assessment and includes a discussion of any recognized environmental conditions identified. If recognized environmental conditions are identified, the report includes DAY’s opinion regarding the need for additional investigation, as warranted.
A site visit of the referenced property. This includes visual observations of the facilities and limited exterior observations of accessible adjacent properties.
Documentation and results of the Transaction Screen are presented in DAY’s standard report format. The report summarizes the scope and findings of the assessment and includes a list of any potential environmental concerns that are identified.
The Phase I/Transaction Screen Assessment group is currently managed by one of the firm's principals, David D. Day, P.E. Also, Claire G. Quadri, Senior Professional, performs reviews of assessment reports. Administrative support for the Phase I/Transaction Screen activities is the responsibility of Sandi M. Miller.
Phase I/Transaction Screen Assessments are performed by a variety of DAY staff members; however, Phase I ESAs are primarily performed by Claire Quadri, Senior Professional; Thomas E. Roszak, Senior Environmental Specialist; Charles A. Hampton, Engineer/Scientist; Heather M. McLennan, Engineer/Scientist; and Sandi M. Miller, Phase I Coordinator. Subcontractors are also used to conduct Phase I/Transaction Screen Assessments for DAY.