Everyone knows the potential environmental risk of a gas station, but did you know that certain fill materials, dry cleaners and railway tracks/spurs also present a contamination risk?

In fact, there is a long list of potentially contaminating activities (PCAs) identified by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change.

A Phase One Environmental Site Assessment (Phase 1 ESA) is the information gathering ‘research’ phase of the environmental site assessment process.  The overall objective of the Phase 1 ESA is to provide an assessment of a property as a first step in identifying the environmental risk during property acquisition or sale.  Essentially, we (the consultant) look for any PCAs and identify where on the property these activities may have caused an environmental concern. Based on what is found, we may recommend additional actions (e.g. a more intrusive investigation – a Phase 2 ESA).

Objectives will differ between buyer and seller:

Buyers: Buyers beware, when you take on a property, you take on its liability. It’s your responsibility to make sure that you know what you are getting into before making a commitment. Conducting a Phase 1 ESA will tell you the potential for environmental contamination and provide next step recommendations, which can be used as a negotiation tool for property acquisition. Due diligence requirements are mandated by most financial intuitions, and you may not be able to get money for a mortgage without first understanding the environmental liability.

Sellers: You want to know what is on your property. If there is a risk of contamination, it is better to deal with it head on, removing the “environmental’ stigma and making the sale of the property that much easier. By ignoring the potential for environmental contamination, it will only become more costly. Contamination on a property left alone can only spread, regulations only continue to get stricter, so any time wasted will result is more of your money before you are able to sell.

While completing the Phase 1 ESA, historical information is reviewed and the subject property visited to determine if any PCAs have occurred on or near to the property (within 250 m) and the likelihood of there being an impact to the subject property.  We weigh various factors to establish if there is the potential for on-site contamination based on the information that we obtained. If the potential exists, we identify the possible contaminate substances and the area(s) on the subject property likely to be effected, designated as Areas of Potential Environmental Concern (APECs).  By knowing what and where to look, we can create a cost effective scope for a Phase 2 ESA.  If after all the research, we believe there are no APECs on a property, the site is considered “clean” in terms of environmental liability risks.

A Phase 1 ESA conducted by Oakhill will also identify other compliance issues and hidden environmental liabilities that may exist. These may include hazardous materials such as asbestos, lead and mould (one of the reasons we have to enter all buildings on a property during a site visit), and/or environmental compliance short falls, such as environmental compliance assessments, hazardous waste information system requirements etc.

Need a Phase 1 ESA? We can help.  Oakhill’s environmental team collectively has over 50 years of experience completing Phase 1 and Phase 2 ESAs.  Oakhill prides itself on helping our clients bridge the gap to compliance.  Give us a call at 905-988-1243 or send an email to info@oakhillenvironmental.com to learn more about what we can do for you and get a free quote.