Glossary and Terms


Abandoned, idled or underutilized industrial or commercial properties where expansion or redevelopment
is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination, building deterioration/obsolescence, and/or inadequate infrastructure.

This term is sometimes used to describe idle, former industrial or commercial property that may or may not have associated contaminated soil or groundwater

Sourece: Brownfield Property: From the website:


Redevelopment Site

A potential Brownfield Site within a community that has been given the title of redevelopment site by the city or town council to avoid legal or publicity to the fact that the site in question is suspected to be contaminated in some way


Record of Site

Protection from environmental cleanup orders for property owners is contingent upon documentation known as a record of site condition (RSC) being filed in the Environmental Site Registry. In order to file an RSC, the property must have been properly assessed and shown to meet the soil, sediment and groundwater standards appropriate for the use, such as residential, proposed to take place on the property. The Record of Site Condition Regulation (O. Reg. 153/04) details requirements related to site assessment and clean up.

Source: Government of Ontario website


Site Specific Risk Assesment

When environmental contamination is encountered at a site, a decision is required on what actions must be taken in order to reduce human and ecological health risk. The decision is often based on the evaluation of alternatives (e.g. various remediation levels) in terms of their impact on the health and well being of human and non-human biota, in terms of socio-economic impact, and taking into consideration technical feasibility and legal considerations.

The process leading to a decision on whether to use generic criteria or to select the SSRA approach normally consists of some or all of the following steps:

  1. Assessment of contaminant concentrations relative to generic criteria in the guideline
  2. Identification of any Potentially Sensitive Sites (as defined in the guideline) that could be affected by contaminants on-site
  3. Technical economic feasibility assessment of meeting the appropriate generic criteria

The SSRA approach involves two main components, Risk Assessment and Risk Management.

Source: Government of Ontario


Contaminated Sites

The definition adopted by the Government of Canada, states that a contaminated site is "one at which substances occur at concentrations

  1. above (normally occurring) background levels and pose or are likely to pose an immediate or long term hazard to human health or the environment, or
  2. exceeding levels specified in policies and regulations."

Source: Government of Canada, 2004


Site Assessment

Environmental Site Assessments (ESA) are generally composed of a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment (Phase I ESA) and a Phase II Environmental Site Assessment (Phase II ESA), characterizes potential health and ecological risks associated with a property.

Phase 1 ESA

A Phase I ESA identifies potential liabilities associated with contaminants in soil, sediment, ground or surface water through site inspection and historical review (guidance is provided by CSA and ASTM protocols).

These may also be referred to as a Preliminary Assessment and Site Investigation (PA/SI). Phase I ESAs are non-intrusive investigative research conducted to obtain as much detailed site history as possible without having to sample and analyze the site. A Phase I ESA is composed of a preliminary assessment of the site and of properties in the vicinity of the site which is the process of collecting and reviewing available information about known or suspected hazardous wastes storage, spills, releases and contamination. Typical characteristics associated with brownfield properties include soil, sediment, surface water and/or groundwater impacted by former operations, stored or buried infrastructure, chemicals, waste, hazardous materials and spills or illegal disposal.

Phase II ESA

A Phase II ESA is an investigation and assessment of a property's, surface and subsurface media. These may include sections within a brownfield site, the entire property itself and physical pathways to human exposure and off-site migration. A Phase II ESA investigates and confirms the environmental condition of the 'Areas of Concern' identified through the Phase I ESA and determines the site characteristics (chemicals, contamination and concentrations) present to the extent of the investigation performed. This data is necessary to file a Record of Site Condition (RSC) and perform a Risk Assessment.


A Phase III ESA (sometimes referred to as a Supplementary Phase II ESA) is more detailed investigation that addresses questions to determine the most appropriate mitigation measure (remediation and/or risk management).

Phase II & III Environmental Site Assessments may be conducted for a variety of reasons: real estate transaction, due diligence, shareholder protection, tank removal program, facility decommissioning & site redevelopment, government compliance, or response to a spill or leak.


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