Key Conclusion: The least expensive Phase 1 project may not provide all the information necessary to evaluate the environmental risk at a Property. This could end up costing the user much more than expected if additional investigation is recommended.

Phase 1 investigations are an important first step to determine the financial risk of environmental contamination at a Property. Risks to a Property vary widely depending on factors such as

  1. size and complexity
  2. age of development
  3. historical uses
  4. nature of surrounding area

The Phase 1 must be done completely and accurately to reach proper conclusions and thus the efforts to complete a proper Phase 1 vary significantly.

There has been a trend of downward price pressure for Phase 1 projects. This is partly a result of competition and also a result of the trend toward digitization of records and on-line accessibility of records which makes research less costly. Users should understand the Phase 1 risk assessment process provides justification for further investigation and the project scope should never cut corners. Seeking the lowest price often turns out to be a case of “you get what you pay for”. The proper effort and corresponding cost for a proper risk assessment is a worthwhile investment. Too many consultants have a race-to-the-bottom approach and many do not take the effort to perform all the research necessary. Often these “gaps” lead to recommendations for unfocused random and risky Phase 2 projects (see Phase 2 article in this newsletter).

Recommendation - ERAS recommends users of Phase 1 reports ensure that all ASTM-required sources of information have been reviewed. This is especially important if Phase 2 recommendations are made. Contact ERAS for a free initial review of your Phase 1 report.