Leading Environmental Risks for Property Purchasers
A significant aspect of considering a property purchase should include contemplating the environmental condition of the land. Contaminants on or near a property can have a serious impact on the value of a property, and in turn, the quality of a real estate investment. As a property purchaser, you would be wise to identify any environmental concerns upfront to avoid accepting inadvertent liabilities. Environmental risks of potential contamination are a substantial concern for a property purchaser because if the property does contain contamination, the new property owner may become responsible for remediating the soil and/or groundwater contamination.
When doing a walk through on a property being considered for purchase keep your eye out for potential concerns that may indicate environmental risk. On-Site concerns include the presence of an aboveground storage tank (AST), an underground storage tank (UST), fill and vent pipes, and capped fill and vent pipes indicative of the former use of heating oil tanks. Inquire to the seller about the previous uses of the property, they are required to disclose if a high-risk operation occurred on-Site, including gasoline service station, automotive repair garage, dry cleaner, and industrial land uses. These are generally linked to subsurface contamination and often signify that further assessments should be conducted.
If an actual on-Site environmental concern is identified it will almost always trigger a Phase II Environmental Site Assessment. If an actual or potential contaminating activity is identified off-Site, it may warrant a Phase II ESA, but it may also be written off as a low concern. That differentiation is dependent on a number of factors including: groundwater flow direction, linear distance between the Site and the area of potential environmental concern, geological conditions in the area (e.g. soil type), the presence of basements in surrounding properties, and depth of ground water in the area. Off-Site factors that would cause a Phase II ESA and the need for intrusive investigations would be proximity to a gasoline service station, automotive repair garage, dry cleaner, and/or industrial land uses (especially heavy industrial such as metal fabrication).
However, in many cases contamination is the result of historical activities which is not visibly evident; professionally executed environmental due diligence provides the only guaranteed way to evaluate these concerns. You must take the appropriate action in order to protect your interests, the initial step in managing environmental risk is hiring a competent environmental consultant to conduct a Phase I ESA. Environmental Site Assessments provide important information on known and potential contamination that exists on a property or in the surrounding area. Environmental Site Assessments provide the potential property purchaser with a comprehensive understanding of the historical background of the site and any potentially contaminating activities that have been conducted on the site over time that may pose as an actual or potential source of environmental contamination. Rubidium’s comprehensive environmental due diligence can help you protect yourself from avoidable monetary losses and unexpected legal issues.