RUSSELL, JOHN S., Helmick and Lerner, Inc., Sacramento, CA
Environmental property assessments have now become a standard part of most commercial property transfers due to the increased awareness of the environmental liabilities associated with such transfers. Gas well properties, as sites where hazardous materials are perceived to be present on a continuous basis, often are viewed as special areas of concern by both lending institutions and buyers of such properties.
Environmental property assessments are typically limited-scope investigations designed to provide the parties involved with a preliminary indication of potential environmental problems that may be present on site, as well as document the environmental conditions present at the site at the time of the assessment. An environmental property assessment should also indicate the need for further environmental investigation or remediation activities that may be required at the site. An environmental property assessment typically involves a review of pertinent historical and regulatory agency records, a title search of the property, a review of available historical aerial photographs and any previous environmental work performed at the site, interviews with persons knowledgeable about the pas and current operations at the site, and a site visit to visually inspect the property and adjacent property. A report summarizes the results of the environmental property assessment and indicates whether further investigate and/or remedial phases are warranted at the site.
Areas of potential environmental concern identified at multiple northern California gas well sites by these assessments include former drilling mud sumps; tanks, piping, and spillage containing produced water and condensate; unused and used compressor oil and glycol compounds; older metering equipment stations (which may involve mercury spillage); unauthorized agricultural chemical mixing areas; and unauthorized household refuse disposal areas.