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Tag Archives: Environmental Site Assessment

Environmental Site Assessment: Phase 1 & 2

Throughout the process of purchasing new property, one of the most important steps is to make sure there aren’t any environmental issues within the site. The responsibility of maintaining the site, and make sure it complies with the environmental laws in place, lies on anyone who has been in charge of the site, from owners to managers. Contaminated land can have serious dangers to both environmental and human health.

Environmental Site Assessments, or ESA’s, act as a way to keep track of actual and potential contamination hotspots before taking part in a commercial real estate transaction. The process can include between 1 and 3 phases, depending on the issues identified after the first phase, and it needs to be conducted by an accredited environmental consultant.

Environmental Site Assessment Phase 1

The first phase is based on historical and commercial research, it’s intent is the development of a report that identifies whether there is a current or historical property uses have had any impact on the soil or groundwater beneath the property and, whether or not, it could pose any threat to the environment or human health.

As a preliminary study undertaken as due diligence associated with a property’s purchase, financing or development, most stakeholders involved in real estate transactions are aware of it and what it requires.

According to the Canadian Standard Association (CSA), the purpose of this first phase is to identify any actual or potential contamination. Though each case has their own demands and concerns, the process of an Environmental Site Assessment Phase 1 may consist of the following tasks:

– Reviewing current and historical land uses, through archived municipal and business directories, environmental databases, fire insurance plans, historical mapping, areal photographs, company records, etc.

– Visiting the site in order to identify actual and potential sources of environmental contamination, as well as any other concerns that may interfere with the development or purchase of the site. The inspection is performed by an environmental consultant, accompanied by someone who is familiar with the property to speed up the process.

– Reporting findings and recommendations: A Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment doesn’t
include any sampling or testing of the soil, groundwater or materials.

Environmental Site Assessment Phase 1 reports can be completed on all types of properties, from residential to vacant land, agricultural, commercial and industrial uses.

Environmental Site Assessment Phase 2

The Environmental Site Assessment Phase 2 is a more intrusive form of investigation used to confirm the presence of contamination identified during the Environmental Site Assessment
Phase 1 and if needed, identify the substances of concern at the site.

The process of an Environmental Site Assessment Phase 2 consists of the following tasks:

– Conducting a subsurface soil and groundwater investigation. This Phase of the Environmental Site Assessment investigation is conducted by advancing boreholes and installing monitoring wells, conducting a chemical analysis of the soil and groundwater.

These are just a few amongst other tasks which may be needed depending on Phase 1 of the Environmental Site Assessment report.

– Preparing a second report with findings and recommendations moving forward.

Though it may get expensive, the investment in an Environmental Site Assessment is well worth it, especially if it reveals important information about the environmental health of a site, as it may influence the market price. If the Environmental Site Assessment concludes that the site is an environmental liability, then it could turn out to be an expensive clean-up operation.

Environmental Site Assessment Phase 2 is most likely to be necessary for specific types of properties such as sites with underground storage tanks, which are at the top of that list, like gas stations, apartment buildings with garages; waste management facilities, etc.