Buyer Beware-Benefits of a Phase I ESA

When purchasing a property it is always important to undertake a Due Diligence Pre-Purchase Inspection. Recently we were contacted by a client who had purchased a property and later found out that some of the Wetlands on the property had been filled by the previous owner. This led to a burden on the new owner including significant costs and a lot of stress to address this issue.

Often we are undertaking Phase I Environmental Site Assessments as Pre-Purchase Inspections for clients for potential contamination however it is important to be aware that they also provide additional information. A Phase I ESA for the site which had the wetlands filled, would have likely indicated this Wetland filling as these reports examine a range of historical aerial photos. Thus they provide a range of information to inform a property purchase.

Once a property purchase is finalised any issues become the responsibility of the new owner. Whether for a commercial property or a rural farm or quarter section, Environmental Due Diligence in the form of a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment is something that all buyers should undertake. They provide a range of useful information including a history of the site and potential risks. As such they assist buyers in making an informed decision on their property purchase.

Why not give us a call today to discuss your next project. As Environmental Consultants based in Calgary and Edmonton we assist our clients with a range of professional services.

Groundwater Contamination

Due to the influence of overlying land uses groundwater is susceptible to contamination as potential contaminants from the surface infiltrate through the soil to the groundwater table. CBC recently reported on such an incident of groundwater contamination from the use of firefighting foams used as part of an emergency response to a fire at Smiths Falls.  The firefighting foam used to suppress the fire worked it’s way to the groundwater contaminating the supply.  PFAS used In such foams and its potential environmental impacts to soil and groundwater is an area of contamination which has been termed “the new asbestos”. While it is unlikely to be as widespread as asbestos it’s ability to contaminate groundwater is of serious concern. This is only one of the many risks to groundwater and if you are reliant on groundwater wells it is important that the water is regularly tested for a range of potential contaminants.  Contaminants can take many years to reach the groundwater table and therefore regular monitoring is important to pick up any changes early and to ensure the water is fit for human and animal consumption. On larger properties it is often a good idea to install monitoring wells on property boundaries to enable regular monitoring of water quality. This can assist in determining direction of groundwater flow and identify contaminants and their possible source before they reach the main supply well. The installation of groundwater monitoring wells is standard practice for many industries and businesses such as Gas Stations in order to monitor any potential groundwater contamination for both environmental and liability risk. As many Albertans rely on Groundwater for their drinking water supply it is important to have the water quality regularly checked to ensure it has not become contaminated.  The links below provide some useful information.

As Environmental Consultants Calgary and Edmonton we are happy to assist our clients in a range of areas.  Why not give us a call to discuss your specific requirements. ?

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/smiths-falls-fire-contamination-wells-1.4934750

https://www.alberta.ca/groundwater-overview.aspx

Environmental Assessments – expect the unexpected

When undertaking Phase I ESA’s and Phase II ESA’s you never know exactly what you may find when you attend a site.  Here is an example of an obvious item of potential concern being dumped drums and other associated debris from machinery servicing. Such activities can result in contamination of surrounding soil and when purchasing a property, it is important to consider former uses which may have resulted in contamination to the soil or ground water.

Items representing a Contamination Risk
Items representing a Contamination Risk

It is important to undertake a sound Due Diligence assessment of any site whether for finance for the lender or if you are a cash purchaser. Once a purchase is finalized any contamination present on the site becomes the “property” of the new owner.

This next photo shows a contaminated former Gas Station. Older Gas Station sites represent a much higher risk than newer sites due to the lack of Environmental Standards and controls historically. This particular site contained a “hot spot” of heavy oil contamination near to the old workshop with the probable source being an underground storage tank (UST) or leaking oil change pit.

oil contamination - environmental assessment alberta
Heavy Hydrocarbon Oil Contamination at a Gas Station/Workshop

Environmental Due Diligence is an important consideration when purchasing a property or for “change of lease” for Commercial Properties. There are many potential risks when purchasing a property and with the cost of Environmental Remediation being so high it is important to avoid or minimize the risk of purchasing a Contaminated Site.

Why not give us a call for your next Due Diligence Environment Site Assessment. We cover all of Alberta and British Columbia with competitive rates and reliable service.

Treated Lumber Contamination in Soil

Recently Anderson Environmental Inc received a request to determine the risk for soil use for vegetable production for soil which was contained in large garden beds made of treated lumber. Lumber retaining walls in the garden beds were suspected to have been Chromated Copper Arsenate (CAA) treated and/or to have been painted with Creosote. Leachate from these timbers has the potential to contaminate the soils within the beds. Application of the Alberta Tier 1 Soil Remediation Guidelines resulted in of a total of 10 samples being collected from the soils of the garden beds near to the wooden retaining walls. Samples were distributed throughout the beds generally within 30cm of the treated lumber. These samples were collected at a depth of 5-15cm. Samples were analysed for Arsenic (As) (five samples) as well as a total of 23 Creosote-associated Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) (all samples). The results were assessed against the values of the Alberta Tier 1 Soil and Groundwater Remediation Guidelines for fine soils intended for agricultural land uses. Of the samples submitted for analysis, all contained Creosote-related PAH concentrations in excess of the Alberta Tier 1 Soil Remediation Guideline levels. Arsenic concentrations were found to be below guideline levels.

With migration above guideline levels at 30cm from the treated lumber it was recommended that the soil not be used for the intended purpose. The migration of chemically treated timber has also been found to leach initially to nearby wetland environments in research undertaken by the US Forest Service. As such when you are considering vegetable production please consider the potential risks involved with treated products.

As Environmental Consultants in Calgary and Edmonton we occasionally get unusual requests beyond our normal range of assessments which provides for interesting work. We undertake a range of assessments including: Phase 1 ESA and Phase 2 ESA, Biological Assessments, Wetland Assessments and Soils Assessments and Water Quality Testing however occasionally we receive interesting requests which are quite specific. Why not give us a call for any assessments you require.

Resources:
https://open.alberta.ca/dataset/842becf6-dc0c-4cc7-8b29-e3f383133ddc/resource/a5cd84a6-5675-4e5b-94b8-0a36887c588b/download/albertatier1guidelines-jan10-2019.pdf
http://www.calgary.ca/UEP/WRS/Pages/What-goes-where/Wood-Creosote-treated.aspx
https://nationalpost.com/pmn/news-pmn/canada-news-pmn/alberta-worried-about-creosote-site-chemicals-near-edmonton-residential-area
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/pretty-nasty-chemicals-alberta-orders-cleanup-at-former-creosote-treatment-plant-in-edmonton-1.3912726