(go to previous page) (go to beginning)
If a site is more rural than urban, and you are starting your research with historical topographic maps or aerial photos, it is critical to look at bordering counties. Sites can be located on the edge of a map quadrant, necessitating a review of adjacent quadrants to better understand the use of surrounding properties. Contamination from nearby properties can migrate and affect the target property. Most aerial indexes are countywide, documenting a lineup of photos as they relate to their actual location within the county. However, there usually is overlap from county to county for areas close to a border. It is therefore necessary to check bordering counties to see if they have more-thorough information.
In the historical context, most properties are a mix of urban and rural. If possible, consult as many available resources as you can to get the most accurate picture of a property's past. Keep in mind that when cataloguing data, libraries tend to side with historical relevance rather than research convenience.
Know what to look for
Even if you check all available historical sources, there may be gaps in data.
The ASTM standard's intent is that as many sources as necessary are consulted to determine a property's past use, says Anthony Buonicore, professional engineer and former president of the Air & Waste Management Association.
"However, if any standard historical source is not reasonably ascertainable or if experience suggests that the resource is not likely to provide useful data," he says, "then that specific source does not need to be consulted. "
If historical research indicates that there are or were areas of potential concern, investigate further. These areas can include industrial and manufacturing areas or sites located on facilities that conducted such operations in the past. Such facilities include former dry cleaners, gas stations, auto-repair shops, photo-development sites or other operations that make use of hazardous chemicals. Convenience stores, too, should be investigated. Most contain underground gasoline and/or fuel-oil-storage tanks.
In addition, knowing what is on neighboring properties can be just as important as what is on the target property. Contamination can migrate through soil and groundwater. It is therefore extremely important to investigate neighboring properties as part of your research.
Call in the experts
If you run into a potential area of concern, or if you're not sure what to look for, consult an environmental professional. One caveat: Make sure you review your potential consultant's qualifications. A recent industry survey by a national environmental-information firm showed that incomplete historical research is the No. 1 reason a Phase I report is deemed unsatisfactory.
If your research determines that there are potential contaminants, go to the next level of environmental due diligence before taking the title to the property or signing off on the loan.
Finally, consider the level of risk your bank is willing to tolerate, and factor that into the equation. Your effort today will pay off throughout the term of your loan.
Derek Ezovski is vice president of business development for Environmental Data Resources. He is also head of the company's lender and insurance-services division. Reach Ezovski at (800) 352-0050 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about EDR, visit www.edrnet.com
Page: 1 2 3 Previous