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The first step of the site assessment process is known as a Preliminary Assessment. A preliminary assessment is conducted to identify potential areas of concern and determine the presence or history of contaminants on a given site. Areas of concern are broader than the recognized environmental conditions included in a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment. These encompass locations where hazardous substances, waste, or pollutants may have been discharged, generated, manufactured, stored, transported, handled, treated, or disposed.

The examination involves a thorough review of historical records, property owner details, tax records, and files from the town, state, and county. Additionally, a meticulous site inspection is carried out, integrating various resources such as aerial photographs, property appraiser files, and topographic maps. 

The preliminary assessment is not limited to a mere review of documents; it also entails a systematic search and evaluation of site-specific operational and environmental information, both current and historical. The primary objective is to determine whether a site investigation is justified based on confirmed or potential releases or discharges.

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