What Are Environmental Site Assessments and How Are They Prepared?

Environmental Site Assessment

Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment: It is comprised of a historical review, site reconnaissance, and interviews with relevant personnel before reporting. It is an evaluation of historical and current property use in order to find any potential contaminations that have or can occur.

Phase 2 Environmental Site Assessment: If Phase I environmental assessment has a concern, then the Phase 2 ESA is conducted. The Phase II assessment is done by drilling and collecting soil and water sample, testing the samples in the lab, analyzing the test report, and then the report is prepared with the recommendation as to whether further investigation or remediation is required.

Phase 3 Environmental Site Assessment: Once the contamination is found in Phase II assessment, Phase III assessment is carried out, which involves remediation of the contaminated soil.

A Phase 1 Site Assessment has four significant steps:

  • Records review is the first step to any phase 1 ESA. It involves a background search of the property, getting reports from various government regulatory authorities, reviewing historical air photos, conducting a land title search.
  • Site Visit: It is usually done once the records review has been completed so that the assessor has information on the property. During the site visit, the assessor visits the site for any possible contamination, presence of any underground or above ground storage tank, assessing the adjoining properties to ascertain if they possess any environmental risk or not.
  • Interviews: The assessor also conducts interviews with the owner and occupants to assess if they have knowledge of any environmental incidents or accidents.
  • Reporting: This is the final step. The report is prepared based on the relevant guides and standards. All the information collected during the record search and site visit will be recorded in the report. Based on the available information, a further recommendation will be given as to whether the next phase of assessment, i.e. Phase 2 ESA, is required or not.

Phase 2 Environmental Site Assessment:

Once Phase I Site Assessment recommends a further investigation that is when a Phase II Environmental Site Assessment is done. The components of Phase II Assessments are

  • Reviewing the previous Phase I and Phase II ESA report
  • Developing a Conceptual Site Model (CSM)- The CSM must be able to tell how the site was contaminated and determine the contamination pathway. The specific elements of CSM should include the following
    • An overview of current and future land use
    • Detail description of how the contamination has happened
    • Sources of contamination like soil, vapour, and indoor air that may be affected
    • Site investigation and sampling planning
    • The distribution of chemicals within each medium, including the level of concentration.
  • Describe how the COPCs may be migrating and the exposure to humans and the environment.
  • Conducting Site Investigation- This step involves drilling, collecting soil and groundwater sampling, and then send the sample for testing in an accredited laboratory. The handling of sampling should be done carefully and as recommended by the guidelines. The laboratory test should include the parameters as recommended by the guidelines.
  • Interpreting and evaluating the data collected during the site investigation
  • Then providing recommendations on whether the investigation has to proceed to the next phase, which is popularly known as Phase III which comprises of remediation and confirmatory sampling.
  • Describe how the COPCs may be migrating and the exposure to humans and the environment.
  • Conducting Site Investigation- This step involves drilling, collecting soil and groundwater sampling, and then send the sample for testing in an accredited laboratory. The handling of sampling should be done carefully and as recommended by the guidelines. The laboratory test should include the parameters as recommended by the guidelines.
  • Interpreting and evaluating the data collected during the site investigation
  • Then providing recommendations on whether the investigation has to proceed to the next phase, which is popularly known as Phase III which comprises of remediation and confirmatory sampling.

A Phase 3 Environmental Site Assessment – Remediation and confirmatory sampling:

This is only done when Phase II Site Assessment confirmed that contamination exists on the property.

  • The first step is delineation, which determines the volume of contaminated soil that needs to be excavated and taken off-site to a government-approved dumping yard.
  • The second stage is to take soil sampling during and after excavation to confirm that all contaminated soil is removed off-site. The soil sampling should be taken from each excavation face, i.e. face and base. The frequency of soil sampling depends on the nature and extent of soil contamination, but sampling should follow appropriate guidelines. Once that is done
  • The third step is to bring approved fill and fill the excavated portion with compacted fill material. Once that is done, confirmatory groundwater sampling should be taken over a period as recommended by the guidelines to confirm that the groundwater meets the appropriate guideline standard.

The report should cover all aspects as recommended by the guidelines, and the conclusion should state that all contaminations have been identified, removed, and remediated, and the site now meets the applicable environmental guidelines.

Ataur Rahman

President at prycoglobal
Ataur Rahman is the president at Pryco Global Inc (PRYCO). He has more than a decade of experience in the leadership role, majorly into Oil & Energy and Heavy Civil & Commercial Construction Projects. He has turned around a couple of loss-making businesses unit into profit centers through effective Cost Management, Process Improvement, Business Strategy Realignment, Reorganizing Organizational Structure.
Ataur Rahman

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