Sampling of the product is not within the scope of a Phase I nor is definite evidence necessary for a condition to be considered a REC. The likelihood that the drum contains haz. or petro. substances along with the condition of the drum and the EP's opinion that it's an imminent threat of a release is sufficient to characterize the condition a REC.
How can the damaged drum be a REC if you don't know what is in it? If it is not a hazardous substance or petroleum product it is not a REC. Perhaps characterization is in order first.
I would agree, buyer should hire a good consultant that has their best interests in mind. Also, keep in mind that a Phase I might not be protective enough for a conservative buyer. For example, a Phase I will determine if a release is "likely" to have occurred. That is not the same as determining if there is the "potential" for a release to have occurred.
Thank you all for the comments. The one drum that is in poor condition has no evidence of leaks but is very rusty and has some bulging. I intend to label the poor condition drum an REC as an imminent threat of release and list the remaining drums as a BER with removal of all recommended.
There's obviously a potential for use of paints, varnishes and solvents, though I'd think significant impacts to groundwater and/or soil vapor from those activities aren't particularly likely. Given the dates you've reported, the regulatory files available are likely to be pretty thin for this adjoining property, but you need to look at the files anyway. Unless there's indication in the files of potential releases, I don't think this would be a REC.
The buyer needs to do his own Phase I.
I look at a lot of old citrus orchard photos and do not recall any with four buildings in a row but not sure that means much.
Probably just farm buildings but that is an absolute wag. Packing houses, in my experience, were more typically near rail lines.
I tend to agree with the above comments but I would add two points:
Circumstances also matter. If they're indoors at a closed business, that's one thing. If they just magically appear in a vacant lot one night, that's something else entirely. Some state agencies interpret illegal waste disposal of this sort as a threat of release, even when the drums are sound and there is no actual release.
Depending on how vigorous your state HW program is, it could also carry a stiff fine as a RCRA violation for not characterizing a waste, storing/generating a waste without registration. or for storing a waste beyond the allotted time period. These are BER issues rather than RECs, but it is a serious one and I would emphasize it as such to the client. Fortunately it's an easy enough issue to resolve-- personally I would put the onus on the current owner to remove them. If it's a foreclosed property, though, my experience is that creditors usually don't want to do that because of how they interpret the limits of their exemptions. In either case the party needs to exercise due care.... even if there's no threat of release now, imagine if some hobos broke into a vacant building....
The other problem is that the firm could have been storing spare samples or other contaminated material in them, and that means there could be literally anything in there from arsenic to PCBs, so you have to do a full characterization and can't use generator knowledge.
I agree with JG; the drums aren't a REC. But they still present a potential environmental liability and could be identified as a possible business environmental risk. Other things that could fall into this category include asbestos, lead-based paint, universal wastes such as old fluorescent lightbulbs, and mercury-containing thermostats. Will you also be inventorying and identifying these items? (It isn't part of the standard Phase I scope, but it's important to many buyers.)
I'd also check with the client and their attorney regarding whether they want recommendations to be included in the report or identified separately (if at all).
Drums aren't a REC just like tanks aren't a REC. It's the actual, likely, or imminent release, that would be a REC. So if there was no evidence of a release (or likely release) and the tanks aren't ready to blow, then there's no REC. I would certainly bring it to the client's attention and suggest they have the current owners remove the drums prior to closing.
I have had a difficult time with this, having been previously registered by the DTSC in California (REA). Since moving back to Maryland a few years ago, I have looked for other similar certifications and there seem to be quite a few, but I am honestly not sure whether there is much real benefit of completing the application process given the costs. Are the QEP or CEP even accepted as reputable or highly regarded EP qualifications? I would love any input from fellow mid-Atlantic assessors. July will mark 9 years of environmental assessments for me, with 14 years in the environmental field total.
Are there any clues in the next earlier photo?
The original is of similar quality and its difficult to make out any shadows. I feel like they look too small to be tanks. The use at the time is relatively unknown. Prior to this aerial, the site had been used as a freight/passenger railroad depot and a portion of the property were used for similar purposes after 1938. These dots are pretty much in the exact location of a former freight building.
So it's clear that sometimes motels had USTs. This suggests that the potential for a UST to be present (or formerly present) might represent a business environmental risk. Is it likely, absent other indications, that a UST was present, and further that contamination is present? I'd say not, based on Pawel's excellent link that suggests only about 20 or so motels in California with documented USTs -- so I wouldn't call it a REC. In my opinion, the report should probably mention both of these observations.