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Baltimore, Maryland Phase I Environmental Site Assessments

Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) in Baltimore, Maryland, are typically conducted by environmental professionals who are certified by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM).

A Phase I ESA can help to identify potential environmental risks that could impact the value of a property or pose a liability to the owner. It can also help to identify any necessary cleanup or remediation measures that may need to be taken before the property can be safely used or developed.

The benefits of having a Phase I ESA conducted include:

  • Reduced risk of purchasing a property with environmental contamination that could lead to costly cleanup or remediation measures.
  • Increased likelihood of obtaining financing from a federally regulated lender.
  • Peace of mind knowing that the property has been evaluated for potential environmental risks.
  • Increase the value of your property.

The requirements for a Phase I ESA in Baltimore, Maryland are generally consistent with the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) International Standard E 1527-13 for Phase I Environmental Site Assessments: Process. However, there are a few additional requirements that must be met in Baltimore, including:

  • The Phase I ESA must be conducted by a qualified environmental professional (QEP) who is certified by the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE).
  • The Phase I ESA must include a review of the MDE’s Environmental Facility Information System (EFIS) database.
  • The Phase I ESA must include a review of the Baltimore City Department of Environment’s (BCDOE) Brownfield Database.

State & Local Resources

Additional Baltimore, Maryland state and local information about PCAs can be obtained from the following resources:

Solutions

Here's what you need to know about Phase I ESAs in Baltimore, Maryland:
  • Purpose: The primary purpose of a Phase I ESA is to assess the environmental history and current conditions of a property to identify any recognized environmental conditions (RECs). RECs are any potential sources of contamination, hazardous materials, or other factors that could pose a risk to human health or the environment.
  • Legal Requirements: Phase I ESAs in Maryland typically follow the guidelines set forth by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the All Appropriate Inquiries (AAI) standard. Compliance with AAI is often required to qualify for certain liability protections under federal and state environmental laws.
  • Local Regulations: It's important to be aware of any local regulations and ordinances specific to Baltimore and Maryland that may affect the conduct of a Phase I ESA. The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) is the state agency responsible for environmental regulations and may have additional requirements.
  • Environmental Consultants: Phase I ESAs should be conducted by qualified environmental consultants who are experienced in Maryland's environmental regulations. These consultants will typically have a thorough understanding of local geology, hydrogeology, and potential environmental concerns in the area.
  • Site Investigation: The ESA process typically involves a site visit, document review, and interviews with relevant parties. The consultants will examine historical records, aerial photographs, and regulatory databases, and conduct interviews to identify any potential RECs.
  • Report: After completing the assessment, the environmental consultant will prepare a Phase I ESA report. This report should detail the findings of the investigation, including any RECs identified. The report may also include recommendations for further investigation or mitigation if necessary.
  • Importance in Real Estate Transactions: Many lenders and investors require a Phase I ESA as part of their due diligence process when considering a real estate transaction. It helps in assessing potential environmental risks that could impact property value and future liability.
  • Liability Protections: Conducting a Phase I ESA in accordance with AAI standards can provide liability protections for potential purchasers and landowners under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).

Frequently Asked Questions

While Phase I ESAs are comprehensive, they do not involve sampling or testing of soil, water, or air. If the assessment raises concerns, a Phase II ESA may be recommended to collect and analyze samples.
Some government programs, like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Brownfields Program, provide financial incentives and grants for redeveloping contaminated or potentially contaminated properties.
Local regulations may mandate Phase I ESAs for certain types of real estate transactions. Check with local authorities or consult with an environmental consultant familiar with Baltimore's requirements to determine if a Phase I ESA is necessary for your specific situation.

Digging Deeper

If the Phase I ESA identifies any Recognized Environmental Conditions (RECs), the environmental consultant may recommend that further investigation be conducted in the form of a Phase II ESA. A Phase II ESA typically involves the collection and analysis of soil and groundwater samples to determine if hazardous substances or petroleum products are present at the property.

Phase I ESAs are an important tool for identifying and evaluating potential environmental risks associated with commercial real estate transactions. By hiring a qualified environmental consultant to perform a Phase I ESA, buyers and sellers can protect themselves from financial liability and make informed decisions about their real estate investments.

What makes Baltimore’s PCAs unique:
  1. It is a little harder to get information from the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), which is often needed to rule out RECs, compared to other states (Virginia takes about a week, and Delaware has a lot online, but the MDE usually takes about a month to over a month to get documentation).
  2. Groundwater contamination is usually a complex issue in the areas around the inner harbor because of much heavy industry focused around there. Most of the northern part of the inner harbor has or is being redeveloped into mixed-use shopping/residential, and there have been a lot of remediation/institutional controls put in place around those areas (It is sometimes a little harder to write those issues off).
  3. Extensive history of the area and the volume of historic records associated with most of the Baltimore properties.

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