Understanding and interpreting the results of your Phase I Environmental Site Assessment can be an intimidating task.  You’ve received the results of the report and you have a recognized environmental condition (REC) and potential contamination.  Now what?  The next step is often a Phase II Environmental Site Assessment, but if you’ve had much experience in Phase II ESAs, you may have experienced some sticker shock.  Maybe you’ve even felt a bit like a car novice in the hands of mechanic… How do you know how big of a Phase II you need?

A Phase II Environmental Site Assessment is a subsurface investigation that can involve soil, soil-gas and or groundwater sampling.  Some are under the misconception that a Phase II will answer the question “how big is the problem?”, but it that is not necessarily the goal of a Phase II.  The Phase II ESA is often only meant to provide a yes or no answer to “do I have contamination?”     Generally, Phase II subsurface investigations address specific areas and contaminants of concern (usually identified in the Phase I), but there are a lot of different ways to skin the cat.  What are the different investigation options available to you?  Do you need soil, soil-gas and groundwater samples or will something more streamlined suffice?  Do you need to have a registered professional to be working on your Phase II?  How much uncertainty can you live with?     Cost is often a significant factor in deciding whether to proceed, and how to proceed, with a Phase II.  What are some factors to consider that can affect cost?    Once you have the results of your Phase II, what is the next step?  If contamination is discovered do you care about eventual regulatory requirements at this early stage?  Do you just do what the regulators require, or should you also be concerned with vapor intrusion and human health?   To be a better informed client, arm yourself with knowledge of the process!     My colleagues Joe Derhake, PE and Kristine MacWilliams, PE are presenting a webinar next Wednesday – “A User’s Guide to Phase IIs” – that addresses many of these questions and will be a great resource for those who want to be a more informed user of Phase II ESAs.  Click here to sign up.  

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