At Solid Ground Environmental, we consult with our clients on a wide variety of properties. When gas stations (or former gas stations) are involved, we often get asked whether it would be advantageous to skip the Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) altogether and jump straight to a Phase II. We are always asking ourselves how we can save our clients time and money, however skipping a Phase I, even for gas station properties, is rarely the answer.
Here’s why you need a Phase 1 ESA
Newer gas stations with recently installed underground storage tank systems and leak detection systems do not have the propensity to leak like their older predecessors do. So, in many of these cases, a Phase I ESA is sufficient and no additional investigations will be necessary.
In cases with older tanks, the gas station is oftentimes already entered into a state trust fund, which pays for investigations and clean-up work at the site after a small deductible is paid. In cases where the gas station is already being monitored by the state, a Phase II ESA is not necessary and the only recommendation is to continue to monitor the groundwater at the site as required by the state.
When a Phase II ESA is needed at a gas station site, the research completed during the Phase I ESA process is integral to prepare an efficient work plan for the soil and groundwater investigation.
The Phase I ESA helps answer questions such as:
- Exactly where were the tanks located on the property?
- What was stored in the tanks – leaded or unleaded gasoline, diesel, waste oil?
- When were the tanks installed?
- Were there any past leaks or significant spills?
The answers to these questions allow us to narrow the focus of a Phase II ESA, saving our clients time and money – even beyond the initial Phase I cost – because we can focus only on the areas and chemicals in question.