Save Money and Time with a Modified Phase 1 ESA – Here’s How!

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When it comes to buying, selling, or developing property, environmental due diligence is crucial. This process helps uncover any environmental issues that might affect the value or usability of the land. Typically, this involves a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment (ESA), followed by a Phase 2 ESA if any red flags arise requiring more subsequent expense and additional time to complete. But what if you know upfront that the property has a history of hazardous substances? That’s where a Modified Phase 1 ESA comes into play. This hybrid approach combines the standard Phase 1 ESA with elements of additional Phase 2 ESA sampling, based upon suspected impacts that may include soil, surface water, and groundwater contamination, soil vapor emissions, asbestos, lead based paint, or mold. Conducting a modified a phase 1 ESA, will save you time and money while providing additional evaluation where chemicals of concern are suspected to be present.

Understanding the Basics

What is a Phase 1 ESA?

A Phase 1 ESA is essentially a background check for your property. It involves:

  • Site Inspection: A visual examination of the property and its surroundings to spot any obvious signs of contamination.
  • Historical Research: Looking into past uses of the property and nearby areas to identify any potential environmental issues.
  • Regulatory Review: Checking with local and federal agencies for any records of spills, clean-ups, or environmental liens.
  • Interviews: Talking to current and past property owners, operators, and even neighbors to gather additional information.

The goal of a Phase 1 ESA is to identify Recognized Environmental Conditions (RECs) that might require further investigation.

Why Phase 2 ESA is Needed

If a Phase 1 ESA flags potential issues, a Phase 2 ESA digs deeper. This typically involves:

  • Soil and Water Sampling: Collecting and analyzing samples to confirm the presence and extent of contamination.
  • Testing for Hazardous Materials: Checking for asbestos, lead paint, mold, and other hazardous substances.
  • Geophysical Testing: Using non-invasive techniques to locate underground storage tanks or other buried hazards.

A Phase 2 ESA provides a more detailed understanding of the contamination, helping to determine the necessary remediation steps.

Introducing the Modified Phase 1 ESA

Knowing your property has a history of hazardous chemical use, why wait to address potential issues? A Modified Phase 1 ESA includes some elements of a Phase 2 ESA right from the start. This proactive approach can be particularly beneficial for properties with known or suspected contamination issues.

Benefits of this Hybrid Approach


Combining assessments into a Modified Phase 1 ESA can significantly reduce costs. By tackling some Phase 2 elements during the initial assessment, you avoid the expense of conducting a completely separate investigation later on. For example, if soil sampling is included in the initial visit, you save on mobilization costs and lab fees.

Time Efficiency

A Modified Phase 1 ESA streamlines the due diligence process, helping you move forward with your project more quickly. Instead of waiting for the results of a Phase 1 ESA and then scheduling a Phase 2 ESA, you get a comprehensive understanding of potential issues in one go. This can be a game-changer in competitive real estate markets where timing is everything.

Comprehensive Analysis

A Modified Phase 1 ESA provides a more detailed evaluation upfront. By including soil, water, asbestos, lead paint, or mold sampling in the initial assessment, you get a clearer picture of any  This comprehensive approach can help you make more informed decisions about the property.

Components of a Modified Phase 1 ESA

Soil Sampling

Soil sampling is critical for properties with a history of hazardous substances use. During a Modified Phase 1 ESA, we collect soil samples from various locations on the property to test for contaminants. This helps identify any areas that might need remediation.

Water Sampling

If the property has groundwater or surface water, we take samples to test for pollutants. Contaminated water can be a significant issue, especially if the property is near a body of water or relies on a well for drinking water.

Asbestos Survey

Older buildings often contain asbestos, a hazardous material that requires careful handling. By including an asbestos survey in the Modified Phase 1 ESA, we identify any asbestos-containing materials that might need to be addressed during renovation or demolition.

Lead-Based Paint Testing

Similarly, many older structures have lead-based paint, which can pose serious health risks. Our Modified Phase 1 ESA includes testing for lead paint, helping you plan for safe removal or containment.

Mold Assessment

Mold can be more than just a nuisance; it can indicate water damage and poor ventilation. A mold assessment during the Modified Phase 1 ESA helps identify any mold issues early, preventing more extensive problems down the line.

When to Consider a Modified Phase 1 ESA

A Modified Phase 1 ESA is particularly useful for properties with known or suspected contamination. Here are a few scenarios where this approach is beneficial:

  • Former Industrial Sites: Properties that housed factories, warehouses, or other industrial operations often have a history of chemical use.
  • Agricultural Land: Farmland might have been treated with pesticides and herbicides that could contaminate the soil.
  • Old Commercial Properties: Dry cleaners, gas stations, and other commercial properties can leave behind a legacy of contamination.
  • Urban Redevelopment Areas: Properties in urban areas often have a mix of past uses that could contribute to contamination.

Case Study: Real-World Application

Let’s look at a real-world example to see the benefits of a Modified Phase 1 ESA in action.

Example Scenario

Imagine you’re considering purchasing an old dry-cleaning facility. You know that dry cleaners often use perchloroethylene (PCE), a chemical that can contaminate soil and groundwater. Instead of conducting a standard Phase 1 ESA and then waiting for the inevitable recommendation for a Phase 2 ESA, you opt for a Modified Phase 1 ESA.

Implementing the Modified Phase 1 ESA

During the initial assessment, our team conducts a thorough site inspection, historical research, and regulatory review. We also collect soil and groundwater samples and test for asbestos and lead paint. The results show elevated levels of PCE in the soil, confirming the need for remediation.

Benefits Observed

By opting for a Modified Phase 1 ESA, you:

  • Saved Money: Combining the assessments reduced the overall cost by avoiding duplicate efforts.
  • Saved Time: You received a comprehensive report in one step, allowing you to move forward with your project more quickly.
  • Gained Peace of Mind: You have a clear understanding of the contamination and the necessary steps for remediation.

Steps to Implement a Modified Phase 1 ESA

Ready to consider a Modified Phase 1 ESA? Here’s how the process works:

  1. Initial Consultation and Assessment
    • We start with a discussion about your property and its history. This helps us understand your concerns and tailor the assessment to your needs.
  2. Integrating Phase 2 Elements
    • During the Phase 1 ESA, we incorporate soil, water, asbestos, lead paint, and mold sampling as needed. This provides a more detailed picture of potential contamination.
  3. Reporting and Recommendations
    • We compile the findings into a comprehensive report, outlining any identified issues and recommended next steps for remediation.


A Modified Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment offers a practical, efficient approach to environmental due diligence, especially for properties with a known history of hazardous chemical use. By combining elements of both Phase 1 and Phase 2 ESAs, this hybrid approach helps save time and money while providing a thorough evaluation of potential environmental risks.

If you’re looking to buy or develop a property with potential contamination issues, consider a Modified Phase 1 ESA. It’s a smart way to protect your investment and ensure a smoother transaction process.

Get in Touch

Ready to get started? Contact our team today for a free consultation. We’re here to help you with all things that deal with environmental due diligence and make informed decisions about your property.