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Environmental Site Investigation & Cleanup

What Is an Environmental Site Assessment (ESA)?

An ESA, in Ontario, is a series of investigations on a property to determine the extent of environmental contamination, if any. Typically they are valid for three years. These are conducted in compliance with the Canadian Standard Association (CSA), or the Ontario Regulations 0. Reg. 153/04 and 511/09.,

The investigation involves property reconnaissance and analysis of soil, groundwater, and sediment.

If contamination is detected and substantiated through laboratory analysis, solutions or monitoring are proposed based on Canadian Standards. 

Remediation activities may also be required to clean up the contamination so that regulatory requirements are satisfied. 

At Fisher, we handle all aspects of the ESA process and the typical associated services, described below, which are: Record of Site Condition, Risk Assessment, Building Condition Assessment.


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Fisher’s CALA-certified Laboratories are part of the ESA team, allowing for efficient analysis and helping you overcome challenges sooner. 




ESA Phase 1

Examining for the Potential of Contamination


PHASE I ESA, as described by CAN/CSA-Z768-01 Standards, as published in November 2001 and reaffirmed in 2016 by the CSA Group.


This is the initial step in the environmental assessment process. Phase 1 is intended to determine the potential for environmental contamination, and then to establish whether there is a need for further investigation. 

This step does NOT involve invasive techniques. A Phase 1 ESA concentrates on land reconnaissance as well as research into the site surrounding area’s history. See RSC if building.

Results: If the site has been cleared, the assessment ends here. If not, typically a Phase 2 assessment is recommended.

ESA Phase II

Establishing Amount or Extent of Contamination


Phase II ESA, as described by CAN/CSA-Z769-00 Standards, as published in March 2000 and reaffirmed in 2018 by the CSA Group.


A Phase 2 ESA, is recommended if the Phase 1 ESA results show a likelihood of contamination. The contamination, based on Canadian Standards, must be sufficient enough to warrant conducting subsurface testing at strategic locations on the property. Typical areas may include a property adjacent to a dry cleaner or gas station. 

These are NOT highly intrusive actions, in fact, normally there is minimal disruption to the day to day operations at the property in question. Usually bore holes are made in strategic locations which are about 4” in width. See RSC if building.

Results: The samples taken are tested and analyzed in our CALA-certified laboratory to confirm whether contamination is present (or not) and to what extent, based on regulatory levels. If the site has been cleared, the assessment ends here. If not, typically a next-step plan is discussed. Sometimes Phase 3 Remediation is recommended.


Supervising Remediation and/or Cleanup

Phase 3, commonly known as Remediation, is an option if contamination “above regulatory levels” is found

during the Phase 2 evaluation.

ESA Phase 3 involves changing the levels of contamination to meet the legislated standards within a given


Remediation can be limited in scope, for example, the removal of surface contaminants from an Underground Storage Tank (UST).

Solutions may also be more extensive, for example, if contaminants have infiltrated groundwater systems or if they are found under existing structures. Fisher does handle such excavation complexities.

Typical treatments for water-based sources include bio-remediation (injecting through wells) or pumping out contaminants. If soil is affected, it is often solved via dig and dump solutions.

Example site remediation include:

Chemical Treatment of Contaminants, e.g. PHC, PAH,

BTEX, Metals, VOCs

PCB Chemical Destruction

Materials Recycling in Asphalt

What is critical with any type of remediation is the formation of a special team, including a project manager who will be your prime contact, together with chemistry (lab), field and excavation specialists.

The key to a successful Phase 3 is the development of a remediation plan to meet both legislated requirements and our client’s needs in a pragmatic and economically feasible manner. Our team will work with you to plan the optimal site solution within a given time frame and minimize day-to-day disruptions when possible. We work with you every step of the way!

Results: Once the remediation has been completed and approved, you are free to pursue your desired land use goals.


Associated Services

RISK Assessment

When do you need the Environmental Risk Assessment?

  • When remediation of a given contaminant is not physically or financially viable under current conditions.
  • When the long-term effects associated with a given contamination need to be established.
  • When the long-term management of a given contaminant needs to be established.
  • Alternative to or limited ESA Phase 3 - Remediation.
  • Risk Management Measures.
  • Certificate of Property Use.
  • Certificate of Requirement.

Under certain circumstances, it may be difficult for a property to meet the site condition standards set out by the province. In such cases, the property owner has the option to consider developing new standards specific to the property through the preparation and acceptance of a risk assessment. This is a technical and scientific examination of the nature and degree of risk defined by the potential contaminant effects within the site-specific situations.

fisher file


Environmental RISK Assessment

Record of Site Condition (RSC) 

A Record of Site Condition is a public domain document that summarizes the environmental condition of a property. The completed document is submitted to the Ministry of the Environment (MOE). Once acknowledged, it is made public. The RSC is filed in the Environmental Site Registry

fisher file


When Do You Need A Record Of Site Condition?

is mandatory
zoning changes

Building Condition Assessment (BCA)

A Building Condition Assessment is an inspection and report outlining the current and potential future costs associated with the maintenance of the building. It is often required:


  • For financing or peace of mind when purchasing a new building.
  • As a supplement to an ESA Phase 1.

A Building Condition Assessment, as described by ASTM Standard E2018 – 15 (link – is as follows:


  • Structural and foundation condition survey of concrete, steel timber and masonry structures including the roof and exterior doors and windows;
  • Condition survey for HVAC, plumbing, electrical, security and fire safety systems;
  • Inspect for water damage and/or mould growth; and
  • Evaluation of observations and reporting with photograph documentation.






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Fax: 905-475-7718



400 Esna Park Dr. Unit: 15

Markham, Ontario

L3R 3K2

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