Phase I property site assessments are a procedure in which both the buyers and the sellers of a commercial property investigate past or present environmental issues. It exists mainly to prevent any future legal issues that could arise by making sure all environmental liabilities are clearly disclosed prior to the official transaction.
There is no environmental sampling or analysis during phase I. It is more of a risk assessment as opposed to soil sampling. The results of a phase I ESA determine whether any further study, such as a Phase II ESA is needed. These results are based off of background information and site inspection.
The steps of Phase I include an off site review of the property, identifying past property uses, discussing plans for future property use, an onsite walking inspection of the property, and the final report. If there seems to be no risk, then no further action is required. If there is an obvious or potential risk than a Phase II assessment must be done.