How Long is a Phase 1 Environmental Assessment Good For?
How long is a Phase 1 Environmental Assessment good for? In general, a Phase 1 Environmental Assessment is good for one year. However, this answer can also vary depending on the purpose of the report, and relative current events. For instance, per the Small Business Administration, a Phase 1 ESAs expires precisely one year from the date of the respective report. On the other hand, AAI & CERCLA Liability Protection from a Phase 1 ESA expires within a 180-day timeframe after the date of the ASTM-compliant database report. Moreover, official ESA standards and regulatory agency screening levels do change periodically. And in such a case, an existing Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment report cane become obsolete. And last but not least, certain job site operations (such as a continuous operating fuel stations) may warrant periodic Phase 1 updates. Typically, such updates can be within three-month timeframes. Updated March 31, 2020.
Updating a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment
In addition to inquiring how long is a Phase 1 Environmental Assessment good for, Clients also ask about the report updating process. Updating a recent Phase 1 ESA can be a faster and more affordable option. Especially when comparing the process to an entirely new report. At a minimum, updating a Phase 1 ESA comprises re-ordering any potential obsolete document(s), re-reviewing them in detail, and re-performing a physical inspection. Ultimately, a new report enters production, utilizing any of the non-obsolete information from beforehand, as well as any of the new information uncovered.
SBA’s One-Year Expiration Date
The Small Business Administration does have a series of environmental procedures and policies for lenders. According to the SBA, if a loan is securable with commercial real estate, there is an instant requirement for at least some level of environmental due diligence. Secondly, if the property use is identifiable with an “environmentally sensitive industry,” and the loan is over a specific dollar amount, a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment process commences. Otherwise, if loan amounts are lower or industries are not sensitive, applicants may commence with just an environmental questionnaire. Above all, at the moment the SBA only accepts Phase I Environmental Site Assessment reports within one year of the production date.
Liability Protection Expiration
Under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), a fully compliant Phase 1 ESA may serve to provide innocent landowner liability assistance for qualifying report users. Although CERCLA liability protection reportedly expires 180-days after the date of the Phase 1 ESA report. For site-specific or report-specific information pertaining to liability protection by CERCLA, consultation with an environmental attorney is advised.
Expiration by Continuing Land-Use Concerns
In some cases, the existing and on-going land-use of property poses a continuous recognized environmental condition. Even after the closure of an ESA report.
- For instance, a gasoline service station can have continuously operating underground storage tanks (USTs) with the potential to leak anytime. Although the underlying soil may have already been proven clear during a recent Phase 2 Environmental Site Assessment, it is still possible for a release to occur after the assessment. As a result, the validity of a Phase 1 ESA honoring a recent Phase 2 ESA does have limitations. Consequently, when asking how long is a Phase 1 Environmental Assessment good for under these circumstances, the answer is “not long.”
In fact, most agencies, lending institutions, and purchasers may consider short-term and periodic updating. For example, update requirements can be as frequent as three months at a time. And upon overcoming any red flags during the updating, additional Phase 2 Subsurface Investigations can be required again.
Expiration by Standards & Screening Level Updates
The ASTM standards for a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment are typically subject to updates and modifications every decade. Consequently, updating the international standards for such reports renders all of the reports formatted to the prior standards as obsolete. Similarly, subsurface contaminant screening levels are also subject to change, at more frequent intervals of time. Upon any update of State or Federal environmental regulations, the conclusions and recommendations of prior Phase 1 ESA reports become obsolete.
How Long is a Phase 1 Environmental Assessment Good For Overall?
The final answer depends on the circumstance and user of the report.
As of the year 2020, it can be as low as 90 days, and as high as 180 days. Although in general, the reports are regarded as valid for a period of one year.
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