Phase 1 ESAs

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ECA performs QUALITY Phase 1 environmental site assessments NATIONWIDE

Feedback from satisfied clients

"The summary report was extremely helpful and presented in an exemplary format. The final report was well prepared and thought out. It provided us with easy to read facts which allowed me to make a more intelligent decision on our business deal. Your company has become the barometer for other Phase 1 projects to be measured. The acquisition attorneys were also impressed and it is obvious that this was not the first Phase 1 assessment to cross their desk." ...
Angus DeWalt, Manager of Regulatory Affairs, Walco International Inc.

"I want to let you know that I’ve been very impressed with your whole process.   I think you’ve got something that definitely sets you apart from the other firms.  I look forward to working with you in the near future."
Tria L. Bullard, Columbia River Bank


Businesses and lending institutions frequently require a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) to be conducted prior to securitizations, refinancing or other business transactions regarding land, building purchases or new development.

ECA performs all Phase 1 ESAs in accordance with the scope and limitations of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Standard E 1527-13 (see below for details). A Phase 1 ESA is performed to assess current or historical land use practices and to identify the presence of any hazardous substances or petroleum products that may exist on or adjacent to the Subject Property.

Having a Phase 1 ESA performed will greatly limit the potential for the property owner from being named as a dreaded PRP (potentially responsible party) in highly litigious / expensive environmental compliance actions.
ECA performs the first two phases of Environmental Site Assessments (see Phase 2 ESAs page - this website) and we refer our clients to what are inappropriately called "Phase 3 ESAs" (see "some advice" on our Home page).

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA)
imposes legal obligations upon property owners to clean up their contaminated site, even when they're not directly responsible for the contamination ("google" Innocent Landowner Defense)!

In order to benefit from the Innocent Landowner Defense, property buyers must demonstrate "due diligence" regarding potential environmental hazards on the Subject Property. It therefore behooves potential buyers to secure reliable and comprehensive environmental site assessments, so as to protect themselves against future environmental liabilities.

WHY do I need a Phase 1 environmental site assessment?

Also known as a due diligence environmental assessment, Phase 1 Study, or Phase 1 Investigation, a Phase 1 ESA serves the following purposes:

Determines whether the Subject Property complies with local, state, and federal environmental regulations
Identifies noncompliance issues regarding the Subject Property
Recommends economical solutions that will achieve compliance with applicable regulations and reduce environmental liabilities

A properly performed Phase 1 ESA (for real estate transactions) consists of three parts:

A review of government records and interviews with appropriate officials, regarding the Subject Property and adjacent properties
A site reconnaissance of the Subject Property and all structures
An evaluation of acquired information and the presentation of findings and recommendations in a written report

The Department of Justice, in regard to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), recognizes the fact that Phase I environmental assessments (ESAs) benefit the environment and considers such proactive measures as significant factors towards mitigation of enforcement matters. In a time when regulators have little if any tolerance for noncompliance, the due diligence demonstrated in the form of a Phase 1 environmental site assessment can provide significant protection from liability for a relatively small cost.

So yes - a Phase 1 ESA is necessary, if you wish to minimize your exposure to environmental liabilities.

ECA performs all assessments according to ASTM Standard E 1527-13 and the latest All Appropriate Inquiry (AAI) protocol. Mr. Smith is both a geologist and an engineer, with an undergraduate degree in environmental biology and a graduate degree in the earth sciences. With over 23 years experience in the earth science and environmental services disciplines, Mr. Smith has performed more than 170 Phase 1 environmental site assessments, as well as the more complicated Phase 2 assessments for clients representing interests ranging from agricultural to heavy industrial. Of the many "professionals" performing these assessments, few have the technical expertise to perform a comprehensive investigation that addresses potential / existing issues that a Phase 1 ESA is designed to find.

You should also ask how far back in time they search records, as MANY Phase 1 providers have the false notion that 50 years is sufficient, when in fact a proper search should go back to first development or 1940, whichever is earliest. You should also ask what constitutes a "data failure". A legitimate data failure, regarding standard historical sources, occurs when the source of information is not reasonably accessible (ie, tucked away in a back room within a pile of unlabelled boxes). An illegitimate data failure occurs when a stressed-out employee (of a large firm) has an hour left before (s)he must board the plane enroute to the next assignment and realizes that the city directory information (s)he still needs to get will have to become "not reasonably accessible" or (s)he has Hell to pay!

Amongst the full-service environmental firms, it is a common practice to delegate Phase 1 ESAs to less experienced staff, since Phase 1 ESAs are not big money-makers and because they are incorrectly perceived as simple boiler-plate assignments. Accordingly, many established firms perform Phase 1 ESAs that are oftentimes grossly inadequate in both content and scope!

When you're paying good money for inferior "due diligence" that may someday be scrutinized by high-paid attorneys, you're setting yourself up for some REAL STRESS (and possibly a delayed retirement)!

Click HERE to download EDR's article on All Appropriate Inquiry (AAI) - a MUST read for all due diligence professionals.

ECA includes the following elements in all of our professionally prepared Phase 1 ESA Reports.

1. Historical land-usage review
2. Geologic and hydrogeologic setting
3. Reulatory government environmental database review
4. Thorough inspection of Subject Property, as well as inspection of adjacent property and surrounding areas
5. Interviews with the best-informed owners and/or occupants
6. Site Plan of the Subject Property
7. Pertinent digital photographs
8. Pertinent aerial photographs dating back to 1940 or earlier, whenever possible
9. Conclusions regarding Recognized Environmental Conditions (RECs), if present
11. Recommendations

Okay, I need a Phase 1 ESA - what should I be looking for?

When shopping for a qualified Phase 1 ESA performer (aka Environmental Professional), please keep in mind the following critical factors:

 Do they follow all elements of ASTM Standard E 1527-13 and/or AAI (40 CFR 312)?
... do they go back to the Subject Property's FIRST USE or 1940, whichever is earliest ?

 Is the Phase 1 performer (assessor) qualified to perform a Phase 1 ESA, as per the AAI requirements (40 CFR 312.10) for an Environmental Professional?
... ECA EXCEEDS all AAI requirements for an Environmental Professional. Brett D. Smith is a registered Professional Environmental Engineer (WA, OR), a Licensed Professional Geologist (WA), has an advanced degree in the Earth Sciences and enjoys 25 years professional experience in the environmental and energy services fields.

 Do they perform environmental lien searches?
ECA diligently attempts to identify any outstanding environmental liens back to the Subject Property's first use.  

 Do they field-check, double-check Regulatory Database hits?
... "Regulatory Reports" often have numerous unmappable sites!
ECA confirms all unmappable sites.

 Do they provide pertinent digital photographs?
... a picture is worth a thousand words!

 Do they provide pertinent digital aerial photographs?
... a bird's eye view is also worth a thousand words!

 Do they have "field smarts"?
ECA's extensive Phase 2 experience enables excellent "on-site intuition" regarding Phase 1 site assessments!

 Do they check the regulatory status of the site?
... if the site requires a file review,
ECA performs file reviews at no additional cost!

 Do they have sufficient environmental consulting experience?
... Brett D. Smith PE, PG (owner) has over 25 years experience working as a geologist / engineer / geophysicist.

 Do their final reports that typically comprise over 60 pages (no padding - see below) that include at least six appendices?

ECA writes comprehensive unpadded reports. It's impossible to follow ASTM / AAI protocol and then produce skimpy 1/4-inch thick reports. However, be aware of "thick" reports that contain unnecessary pages (padding) having little, if any, substantive content. Though time-efficient, reports written via the popular "Parcel" templates always appear to lack the customized site-specific information found in our Phase 1 reports.

Some consultants do not provide specific media sampling (soil testing and/or water testing) recommendations for those occasional properties that require further (Phase 2) environmental assessment work. When necessary, ECA will recommend specific sampling protocols, so that you will know EXACTLY what needs to be done to properly assess the RECs (liabilities) at your property. This allows you to intelligently bid out the Phase 2 work and thus secure the most cost-effective solution to your problem.

ECA always strives to determine the Subject Property's regulatory status, to avoid recommending unnecessary Phase 2 work.

Partial List of Phase 1 ESAs Performed

Hampton Inn in Fort Smith

USGS Geomagnetic Observatory in Barrow

Cedar Tree Village in Anaheim
Lamplighter Mobile Estates in Camarillo
Light industrial complex in Milpitas
Galleria L'Orange Shopping Center in Orange
Ralph's Grocery Store in Oxnard
Two luxury motels in Palm Springs
Best Shopping Plaza in Pleasanton
Two vacant lots in Rosamond
Office Depot in Roseville
Three light industrial complexes in Sacramento
Office complex in San Jose

Proposed hotel in Denver
Proposed hotel in Fort Collins
Apartment complex in Fountain
Apartment complex in Monument

The Baytree Apartments in Dover

USGS Seismograph Vault in Yigo

Two office complexes in Boise
Holiday Inn Express in Boise
NationsWay Transport facility in Boise
TraveLodge Motel in Boise
Vacant auto parts store in Bonners Ferry
Coors Beer distribution facility in Coeur d'Alene
Gas station in Coeur d'Alene
Lloyd's Auto Electric auto facility in Coeur d'Alene
Ray's Chevron in Coeur d'Alene
Riverwalk RV Park in Coeur d'Alene
Pacific Pride Kardlock in Hayden
Comfort Inn in Lewiston
Bulk fuel storage facility in Oldtown
Pacific Pride Kardlock in Oldtown
18-store retail facility in Post Falls
Century Publishing facility in Post Falls
Engine rebuilding shop in Post Falls
Pacific Pride Kardlock in Post Falls
Proposed storage facility in Post Falls
Surveyor's office in Sandpoint

A proposed congregate care facility in Quincy

Hampton Inn in Ft Wayne
Residence Inn in Ft Wayne

Fairfield Inn in Fenton

Apartment complex in Bigfork
TraveLodge Motel in Billings
TraveLodge Motel in Missoula

Hampton Inn & Suites in Jackson
Courtyard by Marriott in Jackson

Five apartment complexes in Albuquerque

Vacant land in Stillwater
Vacant land in Perkins

Shurgard storage facility in Milwaukie
The Bluffs Apartments in Milwaukie
Proposed motel site in Medford

Courtyard by Marriott in Germantown
Fairfield Inn in Germantown
Residence Inn in Germantown
Courtyard by Marriott in Memphis

Oryx Energy Center (26-stories) in Dallas
Warehouse building in Dallas
Hampton Inn & Suites in El Paso
Two proposed motel sites in Lewisville
Shopping plaza in Houston
The Graystone Apartments in San Marcos

Apartment complex in Delta
Apartment complex in Duchesne
Mobile Home Park in Magna
Apartment complex in Moroni
Extra Space storage facility in West Valley City

Denny's Restaurant in Aberdeen
Car dealership in Auburn
Proposed vineyard in Benton City
Proposed Conservancies in Benton County
Proposed hotel in Ellensburg
Comfort Inn in Ellensburg
TraveLodge Motel in Ephrata
Proposed motel site in Kennewick
Fairfield Inn in Kennewick
Storage facility in Kennewick
Egg-laying facility in Moses Lake
TraveLodge Motel in Moses Lake
K-Mart store in Moses Lake
Bingo Hall in Pasco
Construction office in Pasco
30-acre industrial tract in Pasco
Vineyard in Prosser
Midway Mini-Mart gas station in Quincy
28-building apartment complex in Richland
Apartment complex in Richland
18-building apartment complex in Seattle
Grocery distribution facility in Spokane
IBM office building in Spokane
Lloyd's Auto Electric auto facility in Spokane
Metal fabricating facility in Spokane
Williams Scotsman facility in Spokane
An electronics shop in Spokane
Industrial tract in Spokane Valley
Veterinary outlet store in Sunnyside
Shurgard storage facility in Vancouver
The Birch Park Apartments in Vancouver
TraveLodge Motel in Walla Walla
Undeveloped islands within the Yakima River
TraveLodge Motel in Yakima

Proposed motel site in Charleston


Environmental Compliance Associates, LLC
ECA Geophysics

719 Jadwin Avenue, Richland, WA 99352
Voice: (509) 628-9959

372 South Eagle Road, Suite 146, Eagle, ID 83616
Voice: (208) 968-9705
Cell: (208) 501-9984