If you’re purchasing commercial property to start or expand your business, you should be aware of possible environmental hazards and potential site contamination. Under federal (and several state) laws, business owners can be held responsible for the cleanup of environmental contamination on their property, regardless if it was caused by a prior owner or tenant. Because of this, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends hiring professional consultants to conduct an Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) on property you are planning to purchase.

Consider the following:

An ESA can help determine if the site for purchase is contaminated: Buried drums, abandoned underground storage tanks, and undetected chemical spills can greatly affect the environment and can cost you a lot of money for assessment up and remediation. By discovering these hazards before you purchase a property, you can request the current owner clean up the contamination, or have the purchase price reduced to reflect the costs you’ll have to take in order to remediate the area.

Many banks require ESAs prior to funding: The risks and consequences of purchasing contaminated property are staggering, and to reflect this, many banks turn down requests for funding until after an ESA has been conducted. The extra cost of being held liable for cleanup is a burden to both business owners and financial institutions.

Proper ESA testing can reduce your liability in case the property is contaminated: Under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA, or better known as Superfund), property owners can be held responsible for any contamination on their property, regardless if they caused it or not. Not only does the owner then have to pay to remediate the site, they are also responsible to pay into the Superfund to remediate other sites as well. Fortunately, CERCLA does provide liability coverage to owners who show due diligence by making all appropriate inquiries. In this case, a proper Phase I (and if necessary, Phase II) ESA can prove that you fully attempted to determine if any site is contaminated.

Not only are the costs of not performing an environmental site assessment high, the potential benefits of discovering contamination before it affects you, your business, or the environment, is very important. ATC has been helping to ensure businesses are in full compliance with EPA regulations since 1982.  If you’re planning on purchasing a property and are in need of an ESA, contact us today.