3 Phases of an Environmental Site Assessment

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The objective of an environmental site assessment (ESA) is to mitigate risk when buying and/or developing a property by ensuring it’s clear of hazardous substances.

In addition to avoiding the health and safety problems of hazardous substances, ESAs also help the property owner/developer to avoid the regulatory penalties of failing to clean the site. In that vein, an ESA also lets you determine how much clean-up is necessary to develop the site.

In this post, we will outline each ESA phase.

Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment

To carry out a Phase 1 ESA, you need an accredited environmental consultant to examine and document the history of the property.

This is a non-intrusive assessment. The goal is to just understand how prior owners had used the property. For example, was there a gas station at your property? Or was there a residential area on the land before you took it over?

The prior use of the land will dictate how you will need to proceed. For example, a residential area wouldn’t have had a major environmental impact on the land or its surrounding areas.

In turn, you may not require as much environmental remediation work as compared to a gas station or some other facility housing hazardous substances. However, if there is a risk (e.g., hazardous substances, impact on neighbouring areas, etc), you will need a Phase 2 ESA.

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Phase 2 Environmental Site Assessment

If the Phase 1 ESA identifies the possibility of contamination or high-risk substances in the land, then you will need to conduct a Phase 2 ESA.

A Phase 2 ESA could involve lab tests of contaminant samples, such as spills or any remaining equipment from the previous owner.

You may also need to sample the water and soil to assess what’s present. If the lab returns those samples within your locale’s regulated limits, then there’s no need for a Phase 3 ESA.

Where a Phase 1 ESA offers context about the property, a Phase 2 ESA serves as the bridge for determining if you need remediation. If you do, you will need to conduct a Phase 3 ESA.

Phase 3 Environmental Site Assessment

At this point, you will know that redeveloping the property will have an environmental impact on site and, potentially, in the surrounding areas.

With a Phase 3 ESA, you will need a consultant to outline the strategy and cost of remediating your property. They can also outline alternative strategies.

You may need to run additional tests to see the depth of the impact (e.g., a chemical spill) and the borders of the contamination (e.g., did it cross over into neighboring areas?). Likewise, if the groundwater is contaminated, you must look into where that groundwater is flowing.

Next Steps

When it comes to conducting an ESA, you should take note of the following considerations:


Phase 1 ESA

Depending on the size of the property, a Phase 1 ESA typically costs $2,000 to $10,000.

Phase 2 ESA

A Phase 2 ESA will cost $5,000 to $50,000 depending on the size of the property and its intended use. The cost will be lower if you are redeveloping a residential area into another residential area, but it could be much higher if you are changing a gas station into a lab.

Phase 3 ESA

You can expect Phase 3 environmental site assessment costs to exceed $50,000, but the final cost will depend on the size of the property and its specific remediation requirements.

More Information on Removing Hazardous Materials:

Rely on the Right Professionals

Choosing the right consultant to conduct the ESAs is essential.

When it comes to ESAs, you may find that each firm has its own way of reporting contaminants and other issues. In some jurisdictions, Phase 1 and Phase 2 ESAs follow regulatory standards.

You should look into what each firm offers with its Phase 1, Phase 2 or Phase 3 ESAs. It would also be a good idea to inquire how they conduct specific tests, such as how deep they may drill boreholes or what they will look for in soil and water samples.

Finally, the ESA is only the first step. If you require a Phase 2 or Phase 3 ESA, then your next step after those tests will be to remediate your property. For remediation services, rely on only professional environmental contractors.

FERRO Environmental helps property owners and developers remove hazardous substances and contamination from their land. We get the job done right the first time so that you achieve your construction timeline and budget. Call us today to get started!