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Phase 2 Environmental Site Assessments

Do you need to investigate the quality of soil and/or ground water on your property or a property of interest? Let Rubidium Environmental’s experts assist you with understanding the current environmental risks associated with the condition of the property.

What is a Phase 2 Environmental Site Assessment?

If during the Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment, subsurface contamination was identified or suspected, then a Phase 2 Ontario Environmental Site Assessment would be recommended. A Phase II Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) is an intrusive investigation that is conducted to verify and/or refute the presence of potential contaminants of concern on the subject site subsequent to the findings of a Phase I ESA. Based on the soil conditions, and type of contamination expected, boreholes will be drilled and monitoring wells will be installed in strategic locations. The focus of the Phase 2 Environmental Site Assessment is to identify the maximum vertical and horizontal depths of contaminants of concern that may be identified in soil and/or ground water on the subject site.

Should a Phase 2 Environmental Site Assessment identify impacted areas of soil, groundwater and/or surface water during the initial investigation, then additional soil and/or ground water sampling program will be conducted. These additional samples are taken in order to delineate the previously identified impacted areas and identify the extents of the subsurface contamination during the Phase II ESA. Once the extents and boundaries of the subsurface contamination area are known (otherwise known as the contamination plume), a site remediation action plan can be developed to determine the most efficient and cost-effective solution.

The sampling of media (soil, groundwater, and surface water) is conducted during a drilled borehole and/or test pit program, which can vary in size depending on the extent of the investigation required. Should an extensive investigation be required in order to delineate an impacted area and identify depths of contaminants, a significantly larger amount of boreholes would need to be drilled on the site. Drilled boreholes are selected in strategic locations on the site and a ground water monitoring well is installed within the borehole to allow for ground water sampling and monitoring activities. Upon completion of the use of a ground water monitoring well, the monitoring well is to be decommissioned according to applicable government regulations (O. Reg. 903). For industrial buildings, typically 3 to 8 boreholes are required, however, more might be required based on site specific criteria.

Rubidium’s environmental consultants have vast experience dealing with numerous lenders, municipalities, and government regulators. We have strong working relationships with a number of environmental contractors, and drilling specialists whom we can mobilize quickly to ensure that your environmental assessment is complete in the time frame you require. We understand that financial transactions happen on a tight timeline, and our engineers and scientists are able to provide expert environmental consulting services in a fraction of the time of our competitors. Having knowledge about potential environmental liabilities early in the acquisition and/or financing process allows you to focus your attention on whether to move forward with a project, or whether further ESA inspection is required to determine the extent of contamination, and how best to remediate the property, if necessary.

Why is a Phase 2 Environmental Site Assessment Conducted?

Phase II ESAs are frequently required for due diligence, pre-acquisition, and financing purposes. Phase 2 Environmental Site Assessments assist property buyers and financial lenders by helping them understand the potential environmental risks associated with a property. As the cost to remediate contaminated land can be extensive, it is important that the property buyer be aware of potential environmental liabilities.

Depending on the nature of the site, and its past uses, there are a variety of analytical tests that are performed to test for suspected contamination. When performing soil and groundwater sampling the following contaminants are commonly tested:

  • Petroleum Hydrocarbons (PHCs) – commonly associated with the use of gasoline, diesel, fuel oil, kerosene, lubricants, motor oils, etc.
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) – commonly associated with solvents, paints, degreasers, lubricants, oils, etc.
  • Heavy Metals – commonly associated with leaded fuels, fertilizers, industrial process waste, animal waste, coal residues, etc.
  • Inorganics – commonly associated with metals, roadway salt, fertilizers, etc.
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) – commonly associated with coal residue, asphalt products, railway spurs, wood products, waste, etc.
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) – commonly associated with light ballasts, electric transformers and substations, construction materials, etc.
  • Pesticides – commonly associated with herbicides, fungicides, anti-fouling agents, etc.

What are the components of a Phase II Environmental Site Assessment?

A Phase 2 Environmental Site Assessment consists of the following:

Planning the site investigation Conducting a review of previous ESA reports and coordinating underground utility clearances and borehole location layouts.
Site investigation Mobilizing, drilling, and logging boreholes, installing ground water monitoring wells, sampling and monitoring applicable media, conducting soil vapour screening, and submission of media samples to an accredited laboratory for analyses.
A review and evaluation of the collected information Reviewing and assessing all field notes and laboratory analytical results.
Preparation and submission of a written report Compiling a report that describes the presence of any impacted media, impacted locations, and recommendations (if any).

In a hurry? No problem, we offer rush environmental services in the preparation of environmental site assessments. We are able to quickly mobile drilling contractors, and through our close working relationships with numerous analytical laboratories, we can offer quick turnaround times, if requested. We understand the tight timelines associated with property transactions, and our environmental consultants will act quickly to ensure you have time to understand your environmental risks.

What are the Standard Practices Associated with Phase 2 ESAs?

The national standard for conducting Phase 2 Environmental Site Assessments is issued by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) group and is referred to as the CSA Z769-00 (Reaffirmed 2013) standard.

This standard is typically applied to Phase 2 ESAs conducted in Ontario, unless the Proponent is seeking a Record of Site Condition (RSC) pursuant to Ontario Regulation 153/04 (O. Reg. 153/04). In this case, the Phase II ESA methodology must be consistent with O. Reg. 153/04, as outlined in the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change’s technical guidance document for completing Phase II ESAs.

A Phase 2 Environmental Site Assessment required for the filing of a Record of Site Condition is generally required in support of the development approval process with a municipality, which includes a zoning change, site plan control, or building permit issuance. Filing of an RSC with the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change demonstrates that a property previously found to have contamination, or suspected of having contamination, now meets the applicable Site Condition Standards.

All Phase 2 ESAs conducted for the filing of a RSC must be conducted by a Qualified Person in accordance with O. Reg. 153/04.

What are the benefits of a Phase II Environmental Site Assessment? 

Buyer Beware – Provides the potential property purchaser or current property owner with a comprehensive understanding of the presence, type, extent, and location of environmental impacts on the property.

Lender Beware – Provides the potential financial lender with a comprehensive evaluation of any potential environmental risks associated with the site in order to ensure that the lender is comfortable with lending the money to the purchaser. Lenders do not want to take the risk of providing finances on sites which they can become responsible for remediating should a foreclosure occur.

Pre-Purchase – Alleviates the potential for finding environmental issues in the future, which may delay future property transactions.

Leverage – Identification of impacted media in exceedance of Site Condition Standards can be used to negotiate the value of a property and the potential costs required to remediate the site and perform the cleanup activities.

Armed with detailed information about a site’s environmental condition, owners, purchasers, lenders and tenants can make information decisions about the property in question.

Across Ontario, Rubidium’s environmental consultants have prepared environmental site assessments in Ontario for a wide range of industries. Have you already conducted a Phase 1 ESA and want expert advice on how to determine if a site is considered to be impacted? Contact us today, and we will help you understand the environment risks associated with your planned purchase, and identify what, if any, environmental site remediation might be required.

Are you a realtor looking for more information to support your clients’ purchase of commercial, or industrial properties? Contact our environmental consulting firm, and one of our real estate sector experts can assist both you and your client, and understand the risks associated with commercial property transactions.

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