Let’s explore what is required in each phase of an Environmental Site Assessment (ESA).
Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment (ESA)
Requires a non-intrusive historical review of the property, and surrounding properties. This includes documentation from government sources, records, aerial photos, interviews in which the owner must disclose all information about the site, and a site overseen by a Qualified Person (QP – a P.Eng or P.Geo). The QP must have access to all parts of the site during the assessment to ensure a valid RSC.
The Phase 1 ESA allows the team to identify Areas of Potential Environmental Concern (APECs) and form a comprehensive understanding of the history of the property.
Phase 2 Environmental Site Assessment (ESA)
Investigates and substantiates any APECs found in the Phase 1 ESA through intrusive testing methods, like soil and groundwater sampling.
When a Phase 1 ESA reveals APECs, a Phase 2 ESA confirms the environmental condition of the property with physical results. Best accomplished through an iterative process to delineate identified contamination.
Record of Site Condition (RSC)
Occurs after remediation/clean-up phase where environmental impacts on the site are removed or mitigated, through a variety of methods. When complete, QP will recommend the issuance of an RSC.
An RSC certifies that the property, to the best of the QP’s knowledge, meets applicable environmental criteria. It must be confirmed by the Ministry of the Environment which then provides liability protection to the landowner.
Bonus Tip: In July of 2011, the MECP introduced amendments to O. Reg. 153/04 which reduced allowable limits of contaminants in soil and groundwater for most chemicals of concern. Along with other changes that were part of the amendment, this generally means that Phase 1 and 2 ESAs created prior to July 2011, are no longer valid without re-certification by a qualified person. RSCs issued before that date, however, are still valid regardless of when they were filed, as long as they have been acknowledged by the MECP.
O.Reg. 153/04 changes also affect the QP requirements for the site, including; they or their employer cannot have a direct interest in the property they are assessing, they must carry liability insurance, and must be registered as a QP with the MECP.