General Approach to Environmental Audits and Assessments for Real Estate and Financial Transactions 

Lone Tree Resources and Consulting's (LTRC) approach to environmental audits and a site assessment breaks the process down into three phases. Table I summarizes the objectives and elements of each phase of the transactional environmental audit and assessment.

Phase I ESA include a visual inspection and records review to identify the potential for environmental impact and liabilities. If there is a potential impact, Phase II is performed that includes limited sampling to determine if impact does indeed exist. Phase II also includes the evaluation of clean-up options based on the information gathered during the sampling program. If impact is identified and confirmed, more extensive sampling is to be performed during Phase III of the audit or site assessment, to determine the lateral and vertical extent of impact media. Also included in Phase III of the audit and assessment program are work plan and implementation of the site clean-up.

Phase I ESA Approach

LTRC, Inc.  understands that the objectives of a Phase I ESA audit are in most cases are included but not limited to:

  • Identify the potential of an environmental issue or hazardous materials due to current or previous site activities or location;
  • Determine the level of compliance with current environmental standards laws and regulations; and
  • Evaluate the environmental risks associated with the property based on potential sources, migration pathways, and receptors of any environmental hazards identified at the site.

In order to meet these objectives, LTRC has developed a scope of work for a Phase I audit which shows due diligence and meets standard industry practice for a Phase I audit. When developing this scope of work, LTRC referenced a bill introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1989 which attempted to define the due diligence necessary to meet the "Innocent Landowner Defense" as regulated by the Superfund Amendments Reauthorization Act (SARA) of 1986. In addition, numerous professional associations, such as the Consulting Engineers Council of Metropolitan Washington and the American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM), have attempted to define the elements of a reasonable Phase I audit.

We have also considered such references in developing our Phase I audit scope of work.

A Phase I audit conducted by LTRC may include the following:

  • Chain of title and site history review;
  • Aerial photograph review;
  • Regulatory database review;
  • Past and current land use review;
  • Limited sampling (asbestos, lead based paint, lead in water, radon, and electromagnetic);
  • Records review (i.e., manifests, NPDES permits, SPCC plans);
  • USGS maps review;
  • Interviews with federal, state, and local regulatory agency personnel;
  • A review of the adjacent properties an their current status within a 1/4-mile radius of the subject site;
  • Determination of the presence of landfills, or Resource Conservation Recovery Act (RCRA) facilities within a 1/4-mile radius; and
  • Determination of the presence of CERCLA sites within a one-mile radius.

LTRC conducts a thorough, visual site inspection which focuses primarily on environmental issues that may include:

  • Survey of reserve pits, production pits, drip locations, condensate and produced water storage, evaporation ponds, and associated production facilities and waste management areas;
  • Evidence of hazardous or toxic chemicals, including their handling, storage, or disposal;
  • Underground and above ground storage tank and fuels management;
  • Presence of asbestos-containing materials (ACM);
  • Field inventory of electrical units potentially containing polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB); and
  • Survey of general hydro-geologic conditions at the site.

Environmental sampling is typically not included as part of the Phase I audit. However, if we suspect hazardous wastes/materials may have been used, stored, disposed, abandoned, or may exist at the site, sampling and analyses may be appropriate during Phase I activities. Phase I sampling may be conducted to evaluate soil, water, air, naturally occurring radioactive material, or asbestos.

Following the audit, LTRC issues a detailed written report for the client. The report summarizes the audit process, details the findings of the audit, provides conclusions based on the findings, and if deem necessary, gives recommendations for further action. If requested by the client, LTRC will also provide a report summarizing potential environmental liability cost implications of the site and/or possible cost recovery for clean-up.

Phase II and III Approach

Following phase I ESA conclusion and if potential source is identified at an industrial/commercial site, a phase II ESA is generally recommended.

Phase II ESA is performed to assist our environmental professionals to obtain information in characterization of the potential contaminant and to determine extent of impacted media (soil and/or groundwater) and determine concentrations of chemical of concern in each impacted media by collecting samples from the soil, groundwater and/or other contaminated material if deem necessary.

Installation of Remediation Equipment

A Phase II ESA investigation is site specific, that include soil boring's, monitoring well installations and sampling and analysis of surface/subsurface soil and water, soil vapor, and aquifer testing.

Results of Phase II ESA enhance planning of Phase III ESA, which generally includes development, and implementation of remedial action plan (RAP). This stage of site assessment may require remedial system design, site specific pilot test, installation and maintenance of the remedial equipment.

Asbestos and Lead-Based Paint (LBP) Surveys

LTRC's environmental professionals are trained and accredited by U.S.EPA and the local health department to provide industrial, commercial and residential clients with explanation of health and safety issued related to asbestos and LBP presence. LTRC's professionals can also provide clients with inspection, hazardous material management, and abetment of the on-site asbestos and/or LBP.