Assessment Process

Step 1: Contact Us

If you think your site might be eligible for the brownfields assessment program, please contact us! We will be able to talk through the issues specific to your site and give you a general idea of eligibility. We will likely have a representative from our brownfields consultant give you a call to answer any detailed questions you may have. If your site seems like a good candidate, we will send you a Site Nomination Form (PDF).

Step 2: Fill out the Site Nomination Form

Fill out the site nomination form to the best of your ability. We will use that information to request official eligibility from the U.S. EPA who administers our grant funding. If it is property with suspected petroleum contamination we must also seek approval from the State of Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MASSDEP).

Step 3: Phase I Assessment

A Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) is also sometimes referred to as a "21E" referring to the MassDEP's basic level of site investigation.


To identify Recognized Environmental Conditions (RECs). Items that may warrant further assessment or testing.

What's Involved

  • Environmental database review
  • Interview with knowledgeable parties (owner, operator, city officials, neighbor at vacant lot)
  • MassDEP file review (if subject property is MassDEP listed)
  • Municipal file research review (typically includes Assessors, Building Department., Engineering, Fire Department, Health Department, etc.)
  • Review historical information: aerial photos, Sanborn fire insurance maps, city street directories
  • Site history review
  • Site Inspection (non-invasive, no sampling)

Step 4: Phase I Report & Review Meeting

The environmental consultant will prepare a "Phase I ESA" to document the findings for your site. Then we will meet with you to answer any questions you might have and discuss the report's recommendations. In some cases, this report will be enough to help you move forward with redevelopment plans or financing. In others, additional investigation - a Phase II Assessment may be advised.

Step 5: Phase II Assessment

A Phase II Assessment is a more intense site investigation that aims to provide a finer grain of detail on the type and extent of suspected contamination. It can help an owner prepare a clean-up and re-use plan.


Based on the results of the Phase I ESA, define a site-specific scope of work for the Phase II ESA testing. Goal is to evaluate the REC's and characterize potential impacts to the environment. Data would be compared to regulatory criteria (MassDEP standards) to identify "reportable conditions."

What's Involved

Phase II ESAs typically includes testing of environmental media. Most commonly we sample soil and groundwater and test for suspected and common materials.

Other media that may warrant testing depending on the results of the Phase I ESA include:

  • Building Materials
  • Indoor Air
  • Sediment
  • Surface Water

Non-invasive testing can include:

  • Electro-magnetic (EM) survey to look for buried metallic structures (drums, tanks)
  • Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) to look for buried structures (tanks, utilities, unknowns)

Step 6: Phase II Report & Review Meeting

At this meeting we will review the report findings, answer your questions, and discuss next steps. The City does not have funding for clean up but in some cases there are additional sources of grants and low interest financing to help with clean up. The City's grant funding does allow for limited site re-use planning on high-priority sites.