The purpose of the Phase 1 environmental site assessment (ESA) is to determine, through a review of records and a site visit, whether a property is contaminated or likely to become contaminated. No soil or groundwater sampling is done during a Phase 1 ESA.

The review of records pertaining to the property will provide a basis for establishing the site and area history, while the site visit will help to identify the presence of activities or facilities on the site and in the surrounding area that may potentially affect the quality of the ground and groundwaters.

All Phase 1 ESAs conducted by our firm are CSA Z768-01 compliant and supervised by a Certified Environmental Site Assessor (EESAtm) of the Association québécoise de vérification environnementale (Quebec association of environmental auditing, or AQVE). Phase 1 ESAs are also certifiable under Division IV. of the Environmental Quality Act.

At the end of the mandate, you will be provided with a technical report containing gathered data as well as findings and recommendations.

Essentially, a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment is intended to :

  • Gather available information on the property being assessed and on surrounding lands, which will provide a basis for the history of said property and the surrounding areas.
  • Assess, using this information, whether activities were conducted or facilities existed on the premises and the surrounding area that would represent a risk of contamination to the surveyed property.
  • Identify, where appropriate, areas likely to be contaminated as well as potential sources of contamination.

A closer look

Phase 1 ESAs provide an opportunity to study environmental liabilities of a property and identify both potential and actual sources of contamination as well as its environmental risks.

Phase 1 ESA: a key tool for any capital transaction.
In the majority of cases, a Phase 1 ESA is requested by the financial institution or private body funding the acquisition of a site. Indeed, financial institutions play an important role in this business area since their implementation, over the past few years, of processes that require the conduct of Phase 1 ESAs and characterization activities before loans can be granted for the purchase or reuse of sites that may be contaminated. Such a system secures to some degree the value of loans granted.

Purchasing or selling a property with total peace of mind!

Oftentimes, a property will show no visible sign contamination, and only a thorough study carried out by an expert will identify potential signs of contamination. Confirmation of contamination on a property may result in significant environmental, financial and legal impacts. That is why the Phase 1 ESA provides you with a complete assessment of the environmental status of a property and the peace of mind that comes with it.

Completion of a Phase 1 ESA led by a Certified Environmental Site Assessor (CESA) is a cost-effective investment that is beneficial to all, at all times.

Do not hesitate to contact us for any questions regarding the benefits of proceeding with a Phase 1 ESA. Our dedicated team will be pleased to guide you along your project and provide you with services tailored to your needs.

Phase 1 content is based on the requirements of CSA Z768-01 and includes both a historical research and a site inspection. No soil or groundwater sampling is done during a Phase 1 ESA.

Historical research consists of data collection regarding activities that took place on site or on the surrounding properties, which may have resulted in a current contamination of soil or groundwater.

Documents and organizations consulted, where available, are as follows:

  • Ownership titles, to establish a list of past owners or tenants
  • Aerial photographs of map collections, to establish a chronological history of soil use and assess major changes on or around the site
  • The Department of Environment and Climate Change Control (MELCC), to determine whether it maintains a file concerning the site and, as appropriate, to validate the presence of rare, vulnerable, threatened or possibly endangered species according to the Centre de données sur le patrimoine naturel du Québec (CDPNQ) on or around the site
  • The MELCC records of contaminated soils and soil deposits and industrial waste
  • The environmental emergency intervention register
  • The hydrogeological information system, to locate the presence of drinking water wells on or around the site
  • The inventory of federal contaminated sites, which identifies known federal contaminated buildings
  • The Régie du bâtiment du Québec (RBQ), to access the list of licensees of high-risk storage tank systems for petroleum products and the directory of petroleum equipment sites
  • Municipalities, to request information about the site (zoning, presence of tank systems on site, environmental complaints, list of contaminated lands, etc.)
  • OPTA Information Intelligence, to obtain any relevant documentation
  • The fire insurance plans of Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ), which provide historical information about the site and the surrounding properties
  • Past ESA reports, which contain several details of relevance to the study
  • Available geologic or geotechnical reports, which inform on the soil composition of the property and its surroundings
  • Topographic, geological, hydrogeological and soil maps, which contain soil, groundwater and surface water information
  • The directories or archives of the actual or past company operating on the site, where appropriate

The interview and site inspection are conducted, where possible, with someone familiar with the property. Items of special consideration during the inspection include:

  • The presence of specific products on the site (chemical, hazardous, etc.)
  • Storage on or near the site
  • Visible stains on the ground
  • Current or past heating and cooling systems
  • Drains and dry wells
  • The nature of activities conducted on site and on the surrounding properties
  • The presence of backfill and the topography of the site and the surroundings
  • Any other feature that may reveal the presence of potential or actual contamination

All the information compiled from the study of the record and the site visit will be analyzed and evaluated in order to provide recommendations and findings specific to the site being assessed. All of the information from the Phase 1 ESA is reported.

The CSA Z768-01 standard sets out the guidelines and practices that define the conduct of a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment. It thus states the elements that are to be part of a Phase 1 ESA in order to meet set requirements. This standard serves as a prerequisite to CSA Z769.

All Phase 1 ESAs carried out by Environment PH inc. comply with the Z768-01 standard.

At the end of the Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment, two outcomes are possible.

The first is that none of the information gathered during historical research and inspection indicates a risk of contamination of the property; no further investigation is then recommended.

The second is that the results of the research indicate that there is a potential and/or actual risk of contamination of the soil and/or groundwaters on the property. A Phase 2 environmental characterization is then recommended for those areas of the property where environmental risks have been identified.

Learn more about the next phases Environmental Characterization – phase 2 & 3

It is during the environmental characterization work that soil and/or groundwater samples are taken from the property under study.

Learn more