What are environmental audits? Here is our guide to Phase 1, 2 and 3 environmental audits in Ontario.
A Phase 1 audit is a subjective evaluation conducted on sites where there is reason to believe that an environmental problem may exist. The present condition of the site, signs of possible spills, discharge, use and storage of hazardous waste and other signs is included in a Phase 1 inspection. These are obtained through a visual inspection. Other information may be provided such as a review of the history of the property through available documents.
If information or visible signs indicate an environmental hazard may exist or a problem previously occurred then a Phase 2 audit may be recommended. No laboratory testing is used in a Phase 1 audit.
A Phase 2 audit on the other hand follows a Phase 1 audit of a site, which had previously indicated environmental concerns. A Phase 2 audit involves the sampling of on-site materials and the laboratory testing of them. The determination of whether or not to carry out this audit will depend on various items. These may include, the nature of the property, the quantity and quality of information obtained from the Phase 1 audit, the strength of the evidence that hazardous material did or currently exist, and the likelihood that humans or the environment were or are at risk.
The Phase 2 audit centres on determining the occurrence or presence of an environmental hazard. This type of work is usually time consuming and expensive.
Phase 3 audits typically determine the extent and measurement of environmental hazards and the impact on the property and human safety. Tests on surface water, ground water and soil are usually performed. Clean up processes are also recommended in this phase.