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Banks, attorneys, businesses, municipalities and county agencies, and property purchasers alike have found that StoneHill’s assessment reports effectively and rationally communicate key environmental concerns associated with a property. The due diligence process will be designed to suit the client’s unique needs and risk management preferences, the nature of the property involved, and the requirements of the lender. We have found that our clients appreciate the standard of care evident in our reports and the thoughtfulness with which our conclusions and recommendations are crafted. Typically, the objective of the process is to conduct all appropriate inquiry regarding the environmental condition of a property in accordance with good commercial practices to satisfy the innocent purchaser defense to clean up liability, as outlined in the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986 (SARA). The process may include completion of only a nonintrusive Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (a.k.a. Phase I ESA or Level I) or may require the targeted intrusive sampling of a Phase II Site Investigation (see service description).

A Phase I ESA is the first step in the process of meeting the “all appropriate inquiry” standard. It is a nonintrusive investigation conducted by an environmental professional of a tract of real property with the purpose of identifying the likely presence of Recognized Environmental Conditions (REC). The Phase I ESA report conveys a professional opinion regarding the potential that the property is impacted by RECs. The tasks which are conducted to prepare a Phase I ESA report include a review of local, state and federal government records, research into prior ownership and uses of the property, physical inspection of the property, completion of interviews with owners and occupants of the property and government officials, review of historical aerial photographs and maps, a review of environmental setting, a discussion of regulatory impacts if a release is identified, and preparation of a report including recommended further activities, if warranted. Other business environmental risks for which there is no Superfund liability can also be evaluated during completion of the Phase I ESA, if applicable to the client’s needs. These may include the possible presence of asbestos, lead paint, radon, wetlands, cultural and historical resources, or endangered species.

Selected Project Summaries

A Phase I ESA was conducted for an out-of-state bank considering providing mortgage funding to the high profile property buyer. The review
of files at the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) revealed that the groundwater beneath the site was contaminated due to a release from a gasoline underground storage tank
removed from the subject property several years previously. It appeared possible that the contaminant plume had or would soon migrate off site beneath a state-owned highway. Groundwater contamination was also identified at ten nearby properties; however, StoneHill's report provided detailed information concerning the nearby properties which indicated that the oils and hazardous material released at the nearby properties would not impact to the subject property. With respect to the gasoline release at the site itself, StoneHill’s report provided information regarding NHDES regulations and policies which could be used to avoid transfer of liability for future response actions to the purchaser. While the bank was initially hesitant to provide the mortgage, the detailed information provided in the Phase I ESA permitted the bank to change its decision and to finance the purchase of the property.

StoneHill was retained by a nationwide mortgage company to conduct a fast track evaluation of environmental conditions at a future residential
property which included a portion of the former Hunt Tire Pile Fire CERCLIS-listed site. The lender had discovered that the property had been listed on the CERCLIS and was very hesitant to provide a mortgage to the purchaser. StoneHill conducted a thorough review
of case files at the NHDES to evaluate the adequacy of site cleanup with respect to the proposed residential use. StoneHill’s report succinctly summarized the 12-year EPA and NHDES response actions, described the historic recognized environmental conditions, provided a simple solution for potential contact with contaminated soils, and recommended assessment of the one remaining potentially impacted medium, the bedrock aquifer which would be used to supply water to the future residence. With the collection of the acceptable bedrock water quality data, a mortgage was provided for construction of the residence.


Click here to contact StoneHill to learn more about Due Diligence Services



600 State Street, Suite 2
Portsmouth, NH 03801
Telephone: 603-433-1935
Toll Free: 1-800-639-4503
Fax: 603-433-1942

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