The purpose of an Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) is to identify existing and potential site contamination. This involves the evaluation and reporting of existing information collected through a Records Review, a Site Inspection, and Interviews.
A Phase I ESA may assist in reducing uncertainty about potential liabilities and may be a basis for further investigations of the site. Phase I ESAs can help to make informed decisions about property transactions, identify certain baseline environmental conditions, assist in meeting regulatory requirements, and as an initial step in site remediation (Canadian Standards Association Z768, Phase I Environmental Site Assessment).
A Phase II ESA is an intrusive investigation which collects original samples of soil, and/or groundwater to analyze for quantitative values of various contaminants. This investigation is normally undertaken when a Phase I ESA determines the possibility of site contamination. The most frequent substances tested are petroleum hydrocarbons, heavy metals, pesticides, and solvents.
Phase I ESA
Our Phase I ESAs for commercial and industrial clients are conducted according to the CSA Z768-01 Standard or applicable provincial standards. For Upstream Oil & Gas clients, we ensure that all work complies to the Alberta Environment 2001 ESA Guideline for Upstream Oil and Gas Sites and/or BC's Water Lands and Parks.
Nichols Environmental staff have completed reclamation certificate application packages for numerous sites throughout Alberta.
Specific to upstream activities, our team has completed pre-site disturbance assessments for well sites and pipeline tie-ins, detailed site assessments, and vegetation surveys. As well, Nichols Environmental staff have completed reclamation certificate application packages for numerous sites throughout Alberta.
Phase II ESA
Phase II ESAs characterize the type, distribution, and extent of contaminants in the environment. Soil and groundwater delineation investigations typically take a phased approach as preliminary data is used to plan subsequent investigation steps in order to fully characterize the contaminant plume and calculate the associated environmental liabilities.
Our Phase II ESAs for clients are conducted according to the CSA Z768-00 Standard or applicable provincial standards. Nichols Environmental has conducted a number of Phase II ESAs since our inception, including assessments for upstream oil & gas (flare pits, batteries, gas plants), downstream facilities, industrial complexes, chemical plants, metal plating operations, dry cleaning facilities, and other commercial developments.
One of our greatest strengths is our experience in moving from characterization to remediation and providing accurate costs to our clients. With our experience in remediating over 400 sites, we have accumulated an extensive geographical data base of project bids for common construction costs. From this data base we are able to accurately estimate remediation costs and time frames.
Using our civil engineering and survey experience, Nichols Environmental uses high-quality imaging hardware and software, GPS surveys, and the latest AutoCAD and AutoCAD Civil 3D to calculate the extent and magnitude of contaminant plumes. By collecting accurate site data of structures and buried facilities, Nichols Environmental is able to prepare a comprehensive remedial action plan.
Our extensive experience encompasses the assessment and characterization of soil, surface water, groundwater, and air.
Site closure planning is conducted to achieve both the needs of the client, and compliance with provincial and federal regulations. Our Phase II ESA investigations are completed using accepted field and laboratory methods, and accredited analytical laboratories.
Risk Management and Assessment
Nichols Environmental provides risk management and assessment services that help to evaluate and predict the severity of existing and potential future impacts from contaminants left on site. In order for there to be a risk, contaminants must be present at concentrations that are toxic or which may cause adverse biological effects, and pathways must exist by which humans, animals, or plants may be exposed to the contaminants.
In some instances, it is not practical to remove contaminant impacts due to technological, physical, or financial restraints. In this case, the property owner may elect then to use the risk-based approach to leaving contaminants in place.
A risk assessment is specific and unique to the site for which it is prepared. Every risk assessment will provide:
- Documentation of the contaminants on site;
- Location and extent of contamination occurring both on and off-site;
- Estimate of the size and likelihood of risks and hazards to human and non-human receptors both on and off-site;
- Evaluation of the effectiveness of measures proposed to manage contamination in place.
Nichols Environmental has extensive experience in site-specific risk assessments for organic and inorganic contaminants. Our multi-disciplinary staff is capable of assisting our clients through the regulatory maze associated with the risk assessment process.