Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs), Cleanups and Other Services


Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) and Cleanups

Many financial institutions now insist that all commercial real estate loan applications be preceded by an environmental site assessment (ESA) of the property showing that the property meets the current environmental criteria for a clean site. An ESA considers the environmental history, neighbouring properties, and persons of knowledge and includes a thorough visual/olfactory inspection of a site to see if there are any actual or potential issues. There can be four phases required to complete an ESA of a property depending on what issues are identified in the initial Phase I.  The site may also require a “Record of Site Condition” which is registered on a property title deed for future verification that it meets environmental standards.

Phase 1 ESA
Phase I ESA involves a site history investigation and an environmental inspection. Soil/water sampling is normally not performed at this stage. Buildings, yard areas and neighboring properties are examined for environmental problems such as spilled chemicals, asbestos, stained soils, etc.,and the history of the site is investigated for environmental issues. If contamination is found or suspected, a Phase II ESA is recommended.

Phase 2 ESA
If the Phase I identifies any risk of contamination a Phase II ESA will be recommended to confirm the presence of and characterize the substances of concern.  Borehole drilling or trenching is conducted by licensed technicians to collect samples of soils and groundwater for analysis. Characterization of contamination may range from a simple identification to a full delineation of the contamination on the site.


Phase 3/4 Site Clean-up, Remediation and Record of Site Condition
Once the extent of the contamination has been defined, the site cleanup is conducted. Various technologies and approaches can be used to achieve this, depending on circumstances. A “Record of Site Condition” may be required which is prepared by a “Qualified Person” and added to the land title-deed. A Record of Site Condition is mandatory whenever any site is to be converted from a less sensitive to a more sensitive use such as re-zoning a site from commercial use to residential use. Building permits cannot be issued until the record of Site Condition has been completed.


Record of Site Condition
Under current Ontario Regulation 153/04 (“The Brownfields Reg.”), no building permit can be issued for any site which is being re-developed from an environmentally less sensitive to a more sensitive use without first obtaining a “Record of Site Condition” (RSC) or “Certificate of Property Use” (CPU). For example, a former commercial site which has been sold to a residential property developer will need either a RSC or CPU before any building permits can be issued. To obtain either an RSC or a CPU, the property must first undergo a thorough investigation of its environmental condition and if necessary, a cleanup or a risk assessment. An RSC is issued by the Province following the cleanup or, a CPU is issued after the risk assessment has shown that it is safe to leave the contaminants in place. Some clients, however, may wish to have an RSC completed even if it is not required by law since the RSC becomes attached to the land title, confirming that the site meets the current applicable criteria.

Other Services 

Other Services is a broad category of services including all investigative services for a variety of contaminants, tank removal, environmental audits and special projects.  A&A is capable of a wide variety of investigative services for contaminants in air, soil or water and we are able to design a custom approach to a problem in order to gain an understanding of what contaminants are involved and how to address them appropriately.

We have also undertaken a number of special projects that require creative problem solving approaches to complete.  If your project does not fit entirely into one of our general service categories, please call us or use the contact page to find out if we can design a solution for you.

Investigations For Contaminants
Moulds, Asbestos, Creosotes, Vermiculite, Toxic Metals, PCBs, Radon Gas

There is a growing list of contaminants associated with buildings and building materials—asbestos, moulds, formaldehyde, lead-based paints and PCBs in electrical equipment to name a few. These are causing a great deal of concern to property users and they can often create a heavy financial burden on property owners and developers.  A&A can investigate and advise on a variety of contaminants for without incurring huge costs.


Soil and Groundwater Contamination

The Ontario Ministry of the Environment has published a “Guideline For Use at Contaminated Sites in Ontario” (1996) which lists several hundred chemical contaminants that must be cleaned up if their level in soil or groundwater exceeds certain “Maximum Acceptable Concentrations” (MACs). Included in this list are many common commercial and household chemicals such as:

  • Hydrocarbon fuels (gasoline, diesel, furnace oil)
  • Lubricating oils
  • Toxic metals such as lead, cadmium, arsenic
  • PCBs
  • Solvents
  • Pesticides
  • Wood preservatives
  • Dry cleaning chemicals and so on.

The MACs for all of these vary with the type of site, its location and whether or not the groundwater is being used for human consumption. An industrial site located in a non-potable groundwater area will likely have a much higher MAC for a given chemical than another property in a residential neighborhood. There are separate lists of MACs for agricultural, industrial/commercial and residential/institutional properties and for potable and non-potable groundwater properties. Other contaminants not on the list may also be included if warranted.


Removal of Storage Tanks

A&A is registered as a contractor with the Technical Standards and Safety Authority TSSA for the safe removal of underground fuel storage tanks.   

We will ensure that the tanks are safely removed from your site and that, if needed, the soil around the tank is cleaned up to meet the regulatory requirements.  If you intend to use your own contractor to remove the tanks, we can attend the removal to ensure no spillage occurs and that the site meets the applicable contamination limits.





Environmental Audits

An environmental audit examines how a business is handling its environmental responsibilities.  It examines the procedures in place to ensure that a business is in compliance with generally accepted good environmental practices and recommends any changes that are necessary to remain or return to compliance.


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