• They Said What? Part 1

  • By: Bill Leedham P.Geo, QP, CESA

    As a fan of NFL Monday Night Football, I always enjoy the segment called “C’mon Man”, where sportscasters and ex-players present videos of embarrassing plays from NFL and college football games. This got me to thinking of some of the cringe-worthy comments I have heard and read over the years from consultants, clients, regulators and others stakeholders involved with environmental site assessment and remediation. Below are some of the more outrageous statements (in my opinion) for your entertainment, and a few comments for background and to provide a learning moment. I have paraphrased and/or edited a few of these accounts to disguise identities where necessary; however, if you are reading this, and suspect you may be the culprit – all I can say is….. C’mon Man!

    “All I want is a clean Phase One (ESA) report so I can sell this property.” From a property owner’s agent who needed a Phase One ESA to satisfy a potential sale of their industrial site.
    The current owner bought the site years ago, based, in part, on a ‘clean’ ESA report supplied for ‘free’ by the previous vendor. Upon review, the original report was woefully deficient, incomplete and full of errors. The situation worsened when a prospective buyer balked upon their consultant discovering significant on-site contamination. The lesson here is that purchasers should conduct their own due diligence using a qualified and experienced consultant they trust. When something is ‘free’, you usually get exactly what you pay for.

    “Don’t worry about it (a leaking underground fuel tank); some contractor can remove it later and dump the dirty soil in a farmer’s field.” From a realtor to a prospective purchaser of an industrial property with known and suspected environmental concerns.
    The purchaser and the realtor were both advised that this was definitely not how this work should be done, and all remedial actions must be completed by licensed professionals and in accordance with all applicable regulations. Just like buying a used car, don’t believe everything you hear in a sales pitch, and if you have doubts, consult your own knowledgeable and unbiased expert.

    “I decided not to proceed with the (recommended) Phase 2 ESA, but the vendor dropped the price, so I bought the property without bank financing. A $30K price cut should cover any environmental problems, right?” From the purchaser of an industrial property who ‘got a really great deal’ despite numerous potential concerns being identified in the Phase One ESA.
    That depends…. on a lot of things. $30K may cover a simple Phase 2, and/or removal of a small tank, if you’re lucky, if there are no problems, if there is no contamination, if there are no groundwater impacts, no off-site migration, no regulatory approvals, no litigation, no ‘gravy-train’ consultants/contractors (yes, there are some). That’s a lot of ‘ifs’. That’s why we consultants advise further investigation to understand and manage the actual and potential environmental liabilities. Helping stakeholders make informed decisions usually leads to less costly mistakes.

    Next month, to prove I don’t just pick on realtors and owners, I’ll review a few C’mon Man statements I have heard from fellow consultants.

  • Bill Leedham, P. Geo., CESA

    Bill is the Head Instructor and Course Developer for the Associated Environmental Site Assessors of Canada (www.aesac.ca); and the founder and President of Down 2 Earth Environmental Services Inc.


    *The views and opinions expressed in "The Instructors Blog" are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Associated Environmental Site Assessor of Canada Inc. and/or its directors and employees