Key Elements of a Phase II Environmental Site Assessment

Earlier in the year, we provided you with a breakdown of what exactly occurs during a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment. Basically, a Phase 1 ESA involves looking into the past and present activities of a site to determine the likelihood of contamination and if present, what impact that contamination might have on the environment. If it is determined that there is a likelihood of site contamination, then a Phase II Environmental Site Assessment is undertaken. This is known as an ‘intrusive’ investigation which involves sampling and testing to determine what types of contaminants are present on the site and in what volume. This week, we take a closer look at what a Phase II ESA entails.

Do I need it?

Whether a Phase 2 ESA is necessary really depends on the findings of a Phase 1 ESA, the opinion of the environmental consultant, and the level of risk acceptance. Although the presence of contamination does not always necessitate a Phase 2 ESA, laboratory testing is the only way to conclusively understand the condition of a property.


Data obtained during a Phase 1 Assessment is used to determine what types of environmental testing will be needed during Phase 2. Some examples of tests employed to confirm either the absence or presence of contamination at a site include:

  • Surface soil and water samples
  • Mold, asbestos and lead sampling
  • Soil borings (subsurface)
  • Dram sampling (if drums are present on the property)
  • Dry well sampling
  • Floor drain sampling
  • Catch basin sampling
  • Transformer or capacitor sampling
  • Geophysical testing (to identify subterranean tanks and drums)
  • Underground storage tank testing

Installation of a groundwater monitoring well

If the Phase 1 ESA has flagged the possibility of groundwater contamination, then groundwater monitoring wells may be installed to access the groundwater for sampling. These wells are usually a vertically cased hole which has been screened or slotted so that groundwater can flow in and a consultant can take samples for testing. Sometimes multiple monitoring wells will need to be installed to determine contaminant concentrations at different depths.


If contamination is found to present at levels that it poses an unacceptable risk to human health or the environment, immediate remediation action may be taken before a Phase 3 ESA commences.

Alpha Environmental can provide Phase 1, 2 and 3 Environmental Site Assessments for both commercial and industrial sites in Melbourne. To learn more about our capabilities, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us by calling 1300 039 181.