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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) definition of All Appropriate Inquiries is "the process of evaluating a property's environmental conditions and assessing potential liability for any contamination." All Appropriate Inquiries requirements are applicable to any party who may potentially claim protection from CERCLA (also know as Superfund) liability as an innocent landowner, a bona fide prospective purchaser, or a contiguous property owner. Parties who receive grants under the EPA's Brownfields Grant program to assess and characterize properties must comply with the All Appropriate Inquiries standards.
Evaluations conducted under these standards must be conducted or updated within one year prior to the date of acquisition of a property. Further, if these evaluations are conducted more than 180 days prior to the acquisition date, certain aspects of the inquiries must be updated. Parties must comply with the requirements of the All Appropriate Inquiries Final Rule, or follow the standards set forth in the ASTM E1527-13 Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process.
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Participation in the Lake City Brownfield Program by the private sector is voluntary. The program helps move properties towards redevelopment by conducting environmental site assessments and identifying/removing the environmental risk/uncertainty associated with the property. With the funds from the EPA, the City will now be able to pay for environmental site assessment activities on properties where the current owner or prospective purchaser is unwilling and/or unable.
Program participation is particularly helpful where a property is perceived to have an environmental problem, although one may not actually exist. Participation in the program in not mandatory; that is, if the City identifies your property as a potential Brownfield site you do not have to participate. In addition, not all properties are eligible for participation under the program, and funding is limited for assessing these properties.
Participation in a Brownfields project brings resources to the property owners and prospective purchasers that facilitate re-development. The project can help clarify environmental concerns and plan redevelopment to address real or perceived environmental issues. If your property is selected, project-provided services might include:
The primary goal of a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment is to make an "appropriate inquiry into previous ownership and use of the property consistent with good commercial or customary practice." A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment is generally performed by the current owner or prospective purchaser. This step is a vital part of commercial and industrial property transactions where potential liability is a concern and is most often required by lenders and attorneys prior to finalizing a real estate transaction. Phase I Environmental Site Assessments are conducted according to guidelines established in the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessment (E 1527) and EPA's All Appropriate Inquiries Rule.
There are four primary components to the Phase I Environmental Site Assessment: Records Review, Site Reconnaissance, Interviews, and Report Preparation. The Phase I Environmental Site Assessment report will include a statement as to evidence of recognized environmental conditions. Phase I Environmental Site Assessments do not include sampling or chemical analysis of soil, groundwater or other media. Phase II Environmental Site Assessments include site-specific sampling and chemical analyses to characterize the occurrence, distribution, nature and extent of hazardous compounds in soil and groundwater at a property. Phase II Environmental Site Assessments generally provide the necessary information needed to determine if cleanup activities are warranted on the property.
The answer to this question depends on the historical activities at the site, potential contaminant sources, types of contaminants and the regulatory agency that would have jurisdiction over the site. The City has specialists who will consult with property owners to answer this question before testing is conducted. This way a property owner knows exactly what the ramifications are if indeed contamination is found and helps them make an informed decision before authorizing testing on a site.
The primary goal of this effort is to identify potentially applicable cleanup alternatives and to estimate the nature, extent, duration, and cost of implementing selected cleanup alternatives at the site. This task will provide property owners and prospective purchasers with a general description of potential cleanup alternatives and approximate cost to complete these activities. In addition, cleanup decisions are often times based on the proposed end use of the site (residential, commercial) and how the proposed redevelopment (buildings, parking lots) limits access to on-site contamination. It is not uncommon for cleanup costs to be significantly reduced as a result of these efforts.
Although specific redevelopment opportunities do not necessarily need to be spelled out in detail before some work is performed, a general plan for generating redevelopment opportunities is typically needed to obtain EPA approval to spend grant funds on assessment work. In addition, the City will seek to prioritize sites for funding under this project, based on the site's redevelopment potential and plans.
Please contact Shawn Bell, City Administrator at 843-374-5421 or by email.