CASE STUDIES / Environmental Site Assessments for Property Transfer


A water and fire response restoration company commissioned us to conduct Phase I and II Environmental Site Assessments of a commercial building that their client wanted to sell.

They had been called in by the property owner because of suspected environmental contamination and were aware that when someone wants to sell a building with potential contamination, an integral part of the Real Property transfer is an environmental assessment.

We have dealt with every type of contaminant including petroleum products, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), PCBs, chlorinated solvents, and bacteria

Remediation cost overruns and unsuccessful cleanup are often the result of a failure to understand the nature and extent of contamination, which is why they chose CM3 to conduct these ESAs. We have completed hundreds of these assessments since 2010 and excel at identifying areas of potential environmental concern, delineating the extent of contamination, and providing recommendations for how they can best clean up the problem.

We follow Canadian Standards Association (CSA) requirements and/or comply with the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) regulations, which meant our assessments would be acceptable to any regulatory agent or prospective future purchaser of the property.

Our Phase I ESA was a non-intrusive investigation of the property meant to find any environmental liabilities associated with historic and current site activities. Our Ministry of the Environment Qualified Person undertook a historical records review of the site and surrounding area. We visited the site and interviewed the property owner, then prepared a conceptual site model (CSM) that identified potential environmental risks.

As part of our Phase II ESA and based on our results from the Phase I ESA, we prepared a site-specific Health and Safety Plan and a detailed subsurface investigation. We drilled and took soil and ground water samples to determine the physical characteristics of the subsurface and the magnitude and distribution of contaminants. We conducted a site survey that included property lines, structures, underground utilities, wells, and ground water levels. The Phase II ESA identified environmental concerns in the soil on the property.

Our summary report of findings was written in layperson’s terms and provided the restoration company and the property owner with an understanding of the liabilities of the site and a means of quantifying the associated costs related to these liabilities. We detailed the extent of the contaminants and made recommendations for remediation.

We were able to communicate to our client, as well as a real estate representative and a prospective buyer, the extent of soil contamination and how it related to current and future land use of the property, financial implications related to acquiring a mortgage on the property, and estimated remedial costs.

Using our recommendations, our client completed site remediation and the property owner was able to sell the property.

Experts on this Case Study

Bruce D. Cochrane

Bruce D. Cochrane

BSc, PGeo

Principal Consultant
Marc MacDonald

Marc MacDonald


Principal Consultant