Innovative Land Restoration Solutions through site assessment & remediation

Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (ESA)

Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (Phase I ESA) is an important first step in understanding the environmental history of a site. The Phase I ESA is a non-intrusive historical investigation which sheds light on past activities at and around the site, and may suggest certain areas of the site may be contaminated (Areas of Potential Environmental Concern (APECs)).

For the cost of a Phase I ESA, check out our blog post, "How Much Does an ESA Cost?".

Site characterization, beginning with a Phase I ESA, may be necessary as a condition of property sale, for financing from the bank, change in property use, or for many other reasons. Other property owners obtain Phase I ESAs in order to demonstrate commitment to reducing their environmental liability and increasing confidence in the condition of their site.

Ontario Regulation 153/04 (Amended O. Reg. 269/11) specifies what must be investigated in a Phase I ESA. AEL’s Phase I ESAs include:

  • Detailed aerial photographs of the site and surrounding properties and land features, including historical photographs where available.
  • Audits and analyses of historical site activities and processes.
  • Detailed records searches.
  • Site walkover by a Qualified Person (QP). To be a QP, a person must be registered as a Professional Engineer or Professional Geoscientist and be registered as a QP with the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC).
  • A Phase I ESA, through the analysis of historical information as well as the site walkover (which must include access to all areas of the site), leads the QP to identify areas of potential environmental concern (APECs). APECs are portions of the site which, due to past site use or historical activities, are likely to have some sort of environmental issue. This is the purpose of the Phase I ESA– to identify possible environmental issues. From there, the Phase II ESA investigates the validity of the APECs through intrusive testing.

Using the information gathered in the historical search as well as through the site walkover, the QP to identifies whether there are areas of potential environmental concern (APECs). APECs are portions of the site which, due to past site use or historical activities, may have some environmental issue which should be investigated further by completing testing of site materials through Phase II ESA.

A Phase I ESA ranges in time requirements and cost based on the size and location of the property, and the purpose the ESA is being completed for. With more than 500 successfully completed Phase I ESAs, including many since the 2011 Ontario Reg. 153 amendments, AEL is a proven leader in site assessments.

For an easy-to-understand guide on choosing an environmental engineering company for your site assessment project, download our 9 Questions To Ask Your Environmental Consultant.