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A Phase 1 Site Assessment has four significant steps:

• Records review

Record Review is the first step to any phase 1 environmental. It requires an extensive background search of the property to assess any past activities that could lead to contaminations. The first step is to determine what the subject site and its neighboring properties are used for. Along with that, analyzing if any past records are indicating or suspecting contamination. A general record review usually assesses the following documents:
o Previous Environmental Site Assessments: Usually, the owner of the plot has a record of all previously conducted assessments and will be required to share them with the assessor. This includes ESAs of any phase and other reports related to risk management at the subject property. The assessor will then review if the changes recommended in the previous report were implemented. All deductions that concur based on the previous reports have to be summarized in the findings.
o Land Titles: This document is usually accessed through the city’s municipality. It is essentially a list of all previous business owners in the correct order. This gives the assessor a better understanding of all past activities that could’ve occurred at the site.
o The site and Municipal Plans: These plans help the assessor recognize the locations on-site with a maximum potential of contamination. That includes areas where sumps, tanks, and maintenance occur.
o Air Photos: Aerial shots taken by the city of various sections of land. These photos give the assessor an idea of all the developments that have occurred at the site over time.
o Geological Review: This refers mainly to the quality of the land by observing what type of soil, precipitation, and geology exist at the site.
o Past and existing wells: The assessor will determine how many wells are within a 300m radius, whether they are decommissioned or what their purpose is.
o Regulatory and Waste Management Records: This is a background check on the site and company in question. It consists of reviewing any records that indicate a breach of regulations or persisting prosecutions, whereas WMR refers to the methods of disposal used by the subject property.

Also Read: Top 5 Impactful Points of Environmental Site Assessment

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• Site Visit

Site Visit is usually the next step and involves assessing the longevity of the plot. It is recommended that a site visit should be conducted after reviewing all records to be able to direct focus to specific areas of concern. If a building exists on the subject plot, both the interior and exterior are observed.
o PPE: All personnel must have the proper protective gear during a site inspection. The site visit should be carried out with the safety of the environment and all the people involved in mind.
o Current Businesses: The assessor will list all current businesses that occupy the property and observe all operations conducted at each one. The assessor will also look for effects from past property uses and observe the generation and disposal of hazardous materials.
o Adjoining properties: Adjoining properties will also be inspected with the permission of the respective owner. Otherwise, an exterior visual observation is sufficient.
o Limitations: Any limitations faced during the site visit, including any physical obstructions that prevented the assessor from the analysis will be recorded. These include limitations due to weather, inaccessible site locations, safety concerns, or any building obstructions, etc.
o Materials: The assessor shall list any hazardous materials and substances that cannot be identified. Details regarding the quantity produced, disposal methods, and storage conditions must be identified.
o Tanks and Storage Containers: All tanks that are currently in use or have been decommissioned shall be identified. These include tanks that are underground, above ground any storage container. Information regarding their size, year built, contents and location will also be listed. The locations at which tanks have been removed will also be inspected.
o Stains and Drainage Systems: Stains located inside the property, such as on the walls, ceiling, or floors, will be noted. Any stains observed in the parking lot of the property or around the property will also be observed for contamination.
o The parking area and Access to Property: If a commercial building exists at the subject property, the location of the parking facility, and which road is used to access it will be reported.

Also Read: What is the next step if your Phase I Environmental Site Assessment has evidence of potential contamination?

• Interviews

Interviews can be conducted during the site visit with all business owners and site personnel that are familiar with the site. Along with that, government officials that have information regarding the site should also be interviewed with a series of relevant questions.

• Reporting

Reporting is the final step to an environmental phase assessment. All information gathered regarding the property will be recorded, and recommendations will pursue. The five parts a report must include are:
o Client Relationship and Description of Assessed Property: The relationship between the client and the assessor must be summarized during reporting, along with details regarding the property. This includes location, size, and owners of the subject property.
o Information gathered: All information attained from records review, site visit, and interviews will be summarized in an organized format while reporting. Everything that is discovered -including no findings- must be mentioned.
o Conclusions and Recommendations: Conclusions are derived based on the information gathered and the professional opinion of the assessor. Recommendations will be suggested in terms of what the next steps should be for the client.
o Supporting Documents and other References: All documents and references that lead up to the conclusion must be attached to the report in the appendix.
o Qualifications of Assessor and Signatures: The assessor that conducts the Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment must sign the original document to verify that their conclusions are valid because they have the appropriate qualifications to do so. It also holds the assessor liable if any information reported is not viable.

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Pinaaz Rahman

Project Coordinator-Environmentalist at prycoglobal
Pinaaz is a Chemical Engineering graduate who has years of experience conducting Environmental Site Assessments. She studied at University of Alberta and brings a fresh perspective on projects. Pinaaz has an impressive background in process analysis/design and is our lead Environmentalist.
Pinaaz Rahman