Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Technical Information On Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESAS)

By Della Monroe

A proposed development, whether it is a factory or other industrial facility, is always the focus of great interest. People are prepared to sink massive sums of money into it and work hard on establishing it. This necessitates large-scale planning and examination of the relevant factors before a sod can be turned. One of the main areas of assessment is Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESAS), which examines the natural environmental in order to understand whether the site is acceptable for the development, or if not, why not.

The consistent attitude of the developer should be that the environment matters and that pollution is not acceptable. The old-fashioned view that the environment should be taken for granted is not popular these days, and neither is a lax approach to pollution. The public and government are not going to appreciate that approach and where there is enough opposition, government can sometimes restrict or even curtail the entire project. An environmental assessment is part of a more responsible attitude.

As a rule, then, developers should always take cognisance of the environment. They should maintain the approach that the latter needs to be preserved, not damaged or polluted. This is in keeping with the modern philosophy of conservation and respect.

The ESAS looks at several factors in the natural environment that are of extreme importance in determining the safety of the area. These factors are related to aspects of the environment that can potentially have an influence on human health and the ability of the area to sustain the development or planned activities.

One of these is the nature of the soil. Soil is important in assessing the environment because it absorbs and stores substances. Dangerous chemicals seep into the soil (a process known as leaching). These chemicals may originate from a variety of sources, such as dead animals, rotting plant matter or simply the rain. The soil then becomes poisoned and is not suitable for agriculture or other activities.

The soil is another aspect that should be examined. This sounds strange, but soil is not as innocuous as it looks. It absorbs any chemical that it comes into contact with, especially from sources such as animal carcases or decomposing vegetation. Poisons sink into the soil and remain, where they can potentially poison anything else. Poisoned soil is not suitable for crops or animal husbandry.

Undesirable plants are those species which are not wanted by the authorities in that specific area. This is almost always because they are not indigenous species. Alien plant species are a threat to the environment because they do not form part of the endemic food chain. They then cause a disruption in the food chain by absorbing too many nutrients or taking up too much space. They may also cause the soil quality to deteriorate. Unhealthy plants are those which have been poisoned or which are carrying diseases. Poisoned plants are sometimes eaten as fodder by insects and animals, and this is how the poison enters into the local food chain.

The water in the area also needs to be assessed. This is an easy assessment because the water harbors the toxins that are present in the soil and plants.

These are all significant aspects in the environmental assessment. In general, developers should not try to skimp on the assessment or eliminate it from their planning.

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