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Phase I Environmental Site Assessments

GT has extensive experience in performing Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) for public and private sector clients. As a prospective purchaser of a commercial or industrial property, it is critical for the buyer to understand the environmental condition of that property prior to purchase. A Phase I ESA is the first step in the process of environmental due diligence. Under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), the property owner is responsible for any environmental contamination at that property regardless of whether the owner contributed to the contamination or is even aware of its existence. However, a properly performed Phase I ESA can supply the prospective purchaser, innocent landowner, or contiguous property owner with landowner liability protections (LLPs) as established under CERCLA. Typical users of Phase I ESAs include prospective property purchasers, leasees, financial institutions, and municipalities.

Requirements for performing a Phase I ESA have been established by the U.S. EPA and are standardized in the ASTM Standard E1527-13: Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process. The purpose of the ASTM standard is “…to define good and customary practice for conducting an ESA of a parcel of commercial real estate with respect to the range of contaminants specified in CERCLA and petroleum products.” The objective of the Phase I ESA is to identify Recognized Environmental Conditions (RECs) for a property, which refers to the presence or likely presence of any hazardous substances or petroleum products in, on, or at a property.

Most commercial lenders require a Phase I ESA to be performed on commercial and industrial properties prior to lending, since the lender also has potential legal liability. The Phase I ESA also has value for cash buyers, as it provides important information in determining a property’s proper value. A Phase I ESA conducted in accordance with current ASTM standards provides certain liability protections and potential benefits (such as Brownfield tax credits) to a bona fide purchase when remediating and returning a property to beneficial use.

Phase I assessments can also be performed in accordance with other standards, including Ohio EPA’s Voluntary Action Program (VAP) and bank-specific standards. There are many differences between the ASTM standard and the other standards, however, the general goal of each is very similar.

Phase I Property Assessments (PAs) performed in accordance with the VAP are typically performed as part of a Brownfields project and must be conducted under the oversight of a VAP Certified Professional (CP). The purpose is to determine whether there is any reason to believe that any releases of hazardous substances or petroleum have or may have occurred on, underlying, or are emanating from a property. The VAP is less concerned with off-property releases that could impact the property.

Bank specific standards often follow the ASTM Phase I ESA standard, but add additional requirements, such as the potential presence of asbestos, lead-based paint, mold, radon, electromagnetic fields or wetlands. These non-ASTM requirements often vary based on the age of the property and the intended use. GT has the personnel with the experience to evaluate any and all these additional requirements, and execute any standard required by a lender or purchaser.

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Phase II Environmental Site Assessments

A Phase II Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) is an intrusive sampling activity that is performed to evaluate soil, sediment, surface water, groundwater or vapor on a property.  Areas that are investigated have typically been established as a REC in an ASTM Phase I ESA or an IA in a VAP Phase I PA. The scope of work and the equipment required varies widely from one property to another and will be determined based on the identified concern, the layout of the property and accessibility.

While the need for a Phase II is often based on the findings of a Phase I, they can also be performed independently to assess a property with known concerns. These could include a former gasoline station or a former dry cleaning facility where the potential for impacts from historic operations is generally high. They can also be performed to assess a property in response to a spill or regulatory violation.

GT has the capabilities to handle any of your Phase II ESA requirements. Our personnel assigned to your project will have up to 30 years of experience performing diverse Phase II projects in all manor of geologic settings. GT knows what is needed to assess your property and provide you with the data you need to make informed decisions moving forward.

Abandoned Gas Station Cleanup Grant Funding

The Ohio Development Services Agency’s (ODSA’s) Abandoned Gas Station Cleanup Grant program is a valuable resource to help cleanup abandoned gas and service stations throughout Ohio.  The grant is administered through a partnership between the ODSA, Ohio EPA, and the Ohio Department of Commerce, Bureau of Underground Storage Tank Regulations (BUSTR).

The Abandoned Gas Station Cleanup Grant provides funding to assess and clean up BUSTR Class C sites (underground storage tanks with documented releases at abandoned properties). Applicants for the grant include local governmental entities who either own the property or have an agreement with the landowner.  The applicant and property owner cannot have contributed to the prior release of petroleum or other hazardous substances on the Site.

GT professionals have assisted numerous communities throughout Ohio apply for the Abandoned Gas Station Cleanup Grant and receive funding.  These projects have enabled municipalities and land banks to remove abandoned underground storage tanks, remediate contaminated soils and groundwater, and demolish deserted structures.  Blighted properties that had become eyesores and safety concerns were returned to usable sites with newfound potential.

GT specializes in evaluating geographical areas for the presence of abandoned gas station properties that may be viable candidates for the Abandoned Gas Station Cleanup Grant program.  Many historical gas and service stations that may have operated in the 1940s through the 1970s ceased operations and the property became used for other types of businesses (e.g., used car lots, dry cleaners, etc.).  BUSTR often has no records of these facilities, many of which can still contain underground storage tanks abandoned in place.  GT can perform the preliminary research necessary to identify these properties, qualify them with BUSTR, and prepare the application for an ODSA grant. GT can also implement the grant once awarded and bring the site to clean closure at little to no cost for our client.

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