When it comes to real estate or business transactions, the questions you should be asking your environmental professional are these: How long have you been doing this, and do you know what you are looking at? They may seem like innocuous questions, but quite frankly, anyone can conduct a site inspection. But does the inspector really understand commercial and industrial operations to the point where they know what they are looking at in terms of environmental risk? In this industry, the Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) process (and in New Jersey, the preliminary assessment process) has become a commodity that is all too often driven by cost. Yet, when you consider the consequences of a poorly performed ESA in terms of unaccounted-for liability, the potential cost of further assessment and cleanup, and potentially stalled or terminated deals, you wonder how we ever got here.
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