In many of the typical site investigations that I have mentioned before on this blog, we generally follow a phased approach to investigation, remediation, and ultimately closure. The first phase of investigation is known as a “Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA)”. While this title may not be too creative, it is an industry accepted term and is defined by the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) in their standard 1527-05 Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process. The Phase I ESA is an in-depth research project where the Environmental Professional will perform “All Appropriate Inquiries” as defined by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA). The goal of the Phase I is to define the potential for past activities performed at the subject site to adversely affect soil and/or groundwater.
If a potential or Recognized Environmental Concern (REC) is identified in the process of the Phase I ESA, a follow-up investigation or a Phase II ESA is generally recommended. I will go into the Phase II ESA process in a later post.