Contamination on Neighbouring Properties
When deciding on purchasing a property of interest, have you ever wondered what about the neighbouring area of the Site? Can the surrounding properties pose an environmental risk to my property of interest?
The answer to that question is yes. The properties in close proximity to your property of interest, can also pose an environmental risk to your potential property.
Land uses such as a gasoline service station, automotive repair garage, dry cleaning facilities, and manufacturing facilities can pose an environmental risk to your property, specifically if these properties are located up-gradient to your Site (at a higher elevation with respect to the direction of groundwater flow) or are located immediately adjacent to a property boundary of the Site of interest.
How is the Neighbouring Area Investigated?
The neighbouring area is initially addressed during a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA), which includes a historical record review for all properties located within a 250 metre (m) radius from the Site, which may pose an environmental risk to the potential property. Upon the identification of a potential environmental risk located within the 250 m radius, it is at the discretion of the Qualified Person (QP) conducting the ESA to determine the extent of risk (on the Site) that is associated with that property based on length of operations, type of operations, distance from the Site, location, historical records associated with the property, local topography and geology, etc. Should the QP identify a neighbouring property as an off-Site source of potential soil and groundwater contamination, an intrusive investigation (Phase II ESA) would be conducted on the property of interest in order to verify and/or refute the chemical quality of the soil and/or groundwater in the vicinity of that off-Site concern.
A borehole layout would be designed so that a drilling location where soil and/or groundwater samples would be collected is placed in the immediate vicinity of the off-Site concern. Subsequently, a sampling and analysis plan is developed to identify the types of samples to be collected at each borehole location (i.e., soil and/or groundwater), type of contaminants to be analyzed for (i.e., metals), and the number of samples to be collected at each borehole.
What if the Neighbouring Property Caused Impacts on my Property?
If soil and/or groundwater impacts are identified on the neighbouring property and have migrated onto your property, the findings must be reported to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) by the neighbouring property owner and they will be responsible to remediate the impacted area. If the neighbouring property owner chooses to decline responsibility of the clean-up, then the present land owner would be responsible to conduct the remediation program. If the neighbouring property owners are unable to agree on a plan of action and associated expenses, either individually or with the MOECC, than typically legal counsel is retained to represent both parties in order to finalize a firm agreement between property owners.