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Phase I Environmental Site Assessment


Property owners, purchasers, lenders and tenants may face unforeseen liabilities when dealing with properties for which the environmental history is unknown. These liabilities arise from litigation associated with contamination, restrictions on development, loss of land value (due to contamination/perceived contamination), and / or government initiated orders. The information from a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) can be used by property owners, tenants, purchasers, and lenders to make informed decisions.
The purpose of a Phase I ESA is to identify actual and potential Site contamination through historical research, interviews, and observations made during a walk-through of the property and surrounding area. The Phase I ESA is a qualitative assessment, which may be used to structure further intrusive investigation, if warranted (ie. a Phase II ESA). A Phase I ESA can be used to identify existing and historical Potentially Contaminating Activities (PCAs) and their associated Potential Contaminants of Concern (PCOCs). PCAs are activities that may lead to adverse impacts (i.e. contamination) to the soil, groundwater, and sediment regimes, due to the nature of the activities, and through accidental spills, leaks, and mishandling of materials containing PCOCs.  PCAs may be associated with on-site Areas of Potential Environmental Concern (APECs) (i.e. represent an area where actual or potential contamination exists).  The existence of an APEC is subject to interpretation by qualified professionals and is dependent on a number of factors which may include the nature of the PCA, scale of the PCA, and its relative location to the property with consideration to distance, topography, and hydrogeology.
In Ontario there are two main standards under which Phase I ESAs are conducted and evaluated. The first is the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) document Z768-01 dated November 2001 and reaffirmed in 2012.  The second is Ontario Regulation 153/04, made under Part XV.1 of the Environmental Protection Act. The specific standard to which the Phase I ESA is evaluated will depend on the client’s individual needs and intentions.


Site Visit

A Phase I ESA is strictly qualitative in nature and does not include intrusive sample collection and analysis. It will be necessary for a representative from JFM Environmental Limited (JMFEL) to access the entirety of the property, including any buildings that may be present on-site. A site representative may be required to accompany JFMEL during the visit to answer questions pertaining to historical usage of the property and features that may be observed. JFMEL personnel will take photos and notes throughout site reconnaissance to be used as references in preparing the Phase I ESA report.

JFMEL will obtain and review historical information that is readily available and pertains to the site’s environmental history (ie. through public and institutional libraries, online maps and databases, client supplied documentation, etc.). Documents reviewed include; historical aerial photographs, fire insurance plans, topographic maps, and municipal street directories. The reviewed documents are used to establish the historical usage of the site and surrounding area. Interviews with site representatives and other individuals with knowledge of past and present usage of the site will be conducted to further develop the history of the site and surrounding area.
As part of the Phase I ESA process information requests regarding the subject property are submitted to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, the local / regional municipality, and the Technical Standards and Safety Authority. The requests are focused on identifying; environmental concerns, violations, orders, approvals, and investigations; spill records; waste generator and receiver records; records of tanks, and landfills; and, other records relevant towards the completion of the Phase I ESA.

Following completion of the site visit and records review, the information will be assessed and compiled into a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Report. The reports are structured around the standards used, and include an executive summary which presents the interpretation of the findings and relevant conclusions and recommendations.
If you would like more information please feel free to contact us or fill out a no obligation consultation form.
The JFMEL Team