March 22, 2017 Article

Environmental Due Diligence Complacency Can Spell Disaster

Don't let your deal become the next Love Canal

by Cynthia Bishop

“Due diligence.” “All Appropriate Inquiries.” “Phase I Environmental Site Assessment.” These are phrases used to discuss a review of potential environmental liabilities before acquiring property (collectively, "environmental due diligence"). Environmental due diligence has been around since the 1980s, in response to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Love Canal disaster. Environmental due diligence has evolved over the years, with additional defenses and a more structured procedure. However, many attorneys and clients consider environmental due diligence to be “cookie cutter” and have become complacent with its execution. This article discusses the most recent version of the standard, ASTM E1527-13; outlines common due diligence pitfalls; and provides general guidance on how to properly oversee a professional conducting a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (Phase 1 ESA).

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