Environmental Liability, Due-Diligence and Pre-purchase Site Investigations
An Environmental Liability/Due Diligence or Pre-purchase Site Investigation is an audit conducted prior to the acquisition or divestment of a site or property.
The objective is to assess the environmental liabilities associated with the site which could be an issue for the site owner or potential site purchaser. This allows investment to be made on an informed basis, with all due consideration of risk being taken into account.
Potential buyers wish to make an assessment of the environmental liability associated with a site alongside other issues. The assessment of property, land and/or water contamination is now a critical element in assessing risks and liabilities when considering purchase or sale of land assets.
Our due diligence assessment services include risk assessments and site investigations which can assist in the estimation of potential environmental liabilities associated with a site. This work may include the following aspects:
Pre–Acquisition Audit and Desk Study - Phase 1: Historical research and review of available information from sources such as archives, databases, contacts on site and regulatory authorities to discover thepast and current activities at a site so that theymay be assessed for potential contaminative activities.This will determine the potential presence of contamination and extent of any environmental liability to the purchaser.
The Phase 1 Desk Study identifies any potential sources of contamination resulting from the current and/or historical activities at a site. The report will also identify sensitive receptors, e.g. human health, surface watercourses, aquifers, buildings or ecological receptors and collates the information relating to the environmental setting i.e. geology, hydrogeology, industrial activity, location of controlled waters (canals, estuaries, lakes, ponds, rivers, springs, aquifers), pollution incidents and proximity to open/closed landfill sites.
Potential pathways for contaminants to impact on identified receptors are identified and assessed. The process is based on making a qualitative Risk Assessment using the source-pathway-receptor model.
Intrusive Phase 2 Investigation: An intrusive site investigation may then be undertaken to investigate any aspect of the site history that was highlighted by the initial desk study and that could have implications for environmental liability. Intrusive investigation allows a visual assessment of the underlying strata and sampling of subsurface materials to be undertaken.
Chemical analysis of soil samples can be performed to establish the presence and delineate the extent of contamination on the site. The investigation can also involve assessment of groundwater beneath the site, using chemical analysis of water samples and groundwater modeling. This information is used to refine the risk assessment, using the source-pathway-receptor conceptual model formulated for the site.
The investigation to assess the potential for environmental liability is designed and implemented, using a variety of methods, depending on factors such as the environmental sensitivity of the area, ground conditions (anticipated geology, hydrogeology, the expected presence of old foundations or other obstructions which may have an impact on the technique selected), size of site, type of contaminants identified by the Phase 1 desk study as potentially present.
Review of Previous Work and Other Information – An assessment of the potential for environmental liability to arise can also be made through reviewing and drawing together reports, including work undertaken in the past and other documents as an independent third party.
ESG has been involved in a wide range of development projects requiring investigations of potentially contaminated sites in relation to environmental liability. We are able to provide a comprehensive contaminated land investigation service including:
Production of Phase 1 Desk Study reports through extensive information gathering, analysis and interpretation
Designing, commissioning and supervising Phase 2 Intrusive Site Investigations, to meet the requirements of both the client and statutory authorities
Independent review of information including site investigations findings and historical information which may give an indication of the potential for environmental liability to arise.
ESG undertake site investigations and reporting in accordance with relevant guidelines including BS 10175: 2001, DEFRA and Environment Agency guidance. We have extensive experience in undertaking site investigations on a wide range of sites.