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Vapor Intrusion is the latest environmental liability concern for lenders


A recent revision to the ASTM Phase I ESA protocol now requires that the potential for vapor migration of contaminants onto a property be evaluated (ASTM E1527-13, published last week).  An example of this scenario is contaminated groundwater from an adjacent dry cleaning property passing below a nearby apartment complex, with the potential for contaminated vapors eventually entering basements and apartment units.

The updated ASTM standard introduces new challenges for lenders, who may have historically been satisfied with “no further action (NFA)” letters for the subject site or nearby sites.  If the basis for a NFA letter did not include evaluation of vapor migration, then the validity of the NFA status may be suspect and possibly re-examined by regulatory authorities at some point.  Additional scrutiny of nearby sites is also now required during the Phase I process, and in some cases the potential for vapor migration from those nearby sites may not be ruled out.  This could lead to actual testing of the soil vapor at the subject to determine whether a recognized environmental condition exists.

The mechanisms for contaminated vapor ultimately entering a building are very complicated and not fully understood.  The liability concerns for owners, purchasers and lenders are in a similar state; not fully understood and developing rapidly.  A strong consulting team is critical to successfully educate the parties involved and navigate through these issues.  Consulting Solutions has experienced staff with the unique skills to provide balanced and reasonable analysis of this new landscape.

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