Phase I, II, and III Environmental Site Assessments

Environmental site assessments typically represent the fundamental building block of projects involving soil or ground water contamination, and in many ways represent the foundation of the company. Geological Services Inc personnel have either directly led or have been involved with scores of Phase I, II and III environmental site assessments in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, Connecticut, North Carolina, South Carolina, New Jersey, and elsewhere.  The most simple projects have included small restaurants and apartment buildings, while the most complex include a major electronics manufacturing facility situated on a 50-acre site with a total under-roof plant area of 4 acres, numerous hazardous materials handling centers, and multiple underground storage tanks.  Our expertise in diverse areas such as wetlands delineation, environmental risk assessment, industrial chemical handling practices, and geological hazards recognition assures clients of a detailed and comprehensive evaluation of the subject property. 

Geological Services, Inc. strictly follows the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM: Standard E1527) guidelines for the completion of the Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA). According to the ASTM,  "The professional judgement of an environmental professional is... vital to the performance of appropriate inquiry at the Phase I ESA level".  We at Geological Services take this to heart, and recognize that personal as well as corporate financial well being may depend on the decisions made in association with the purchase of a commercial or industrial property.  Accordingly, all critical project elements are completed by Licensed Professionals specializing in industrial contaminant release, transport and remediation to and in the natural environment. 

In accordance with ASTM standards, Geological Services' basic Phase I ESA includes the following components:


Records Review: Environmental records are  reviewed in order to ascertain the presence of reported incidents of hazardous or petroleum substance releases which may have affected the site.  Review of computerized records include some twenty separate state and federal databases including:

  • National Priorities List (NPL)
  • Resource Conservation and Recovery Information System (RCRIS-TSD)
  • Toxic Release Chemical Release Inventory System (TRIS)
  • Records maintained by the relevant state regulatory agency
  • Historical records, which may include
    • Air Photos
    • Fire Insurance Maps
    • Property Tax Files
    • Recorded land title records
    • Building Department Records
    • Zoning/land use records


Site Reconnaissance:  Site reconnaissance may be the single most important element of the ESA process. The visual and physical inspection includes direct observation of property exteriors and interiors, including views from all adjacent public thoroughfares.  The following elementsare addressed in the final report:


  • The inspection method used (e.g. grid patterns or other systematic approach), and any limitations imposed by physical obstructions.
  • Current and past uses of the property, adjacent properties, and the surrounding area as indicated during the site inspection, especially in terms of hazardous substances or petroleum products.  Unoccupied occupant spaces will also be noted.
  • Geologic, hydrogeologic, hydrologic, and topographical conditions in terms of potential pathways for environmental impacts.
  • A general description of structures (age, number of stories, etc.), roads and parking areas; potable water source and location; sewage disposal systems, etc.
  • Hazardous substances and petroleum products including the approximate number of containers and storage conditions
  • Above ground and under ground storage tanks and associated appurtenances including any odors, pools of liquids, sumps (those likely to contain hazardous liquids), drums (as small as 5 gallons), unidentified substance containers, etc.
  • Electric or hydraulic equipment containing PCBs will be described to "the extent visually or physically observed or identified from the interviews or records review".
  • Heating/cooling systems, stains or corrosion, drains and sumps, pits, ponds, lagoons, stained soils and pavement, stressed vegetation, solid and liquid wastes, wells, and septic systems


Owner/Occupant Interviews: Interviews with the owner of the property as well as other occupants (including tenants and employees) can be a valuable source of direct information regarding site use and history.  The following individuals are interviewed (as available):

  • Key Site Manager
  • Occupants of the property (limited to a representative number).
  • Local government officials possibly including representatives of the Fire Department, Local/state health agency, or the regional office of state agency responsible for hazardous materials regulation.