Does the Law Require the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to Clean Up Hazardous Sites ?
In Odette's, Inc. v. Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, 699 A.2d 775 (Pa. Cmwlth. 1997), this Court considered a mandamus action in which an owner sought to compel the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to perform its duties under the Dam Safety and Encroachment Act, Act of November 26, 1978, P.L. 1375, as amended, 32 P.S. 693.1 - 693.27.
The Department responded with the argument that mandamus did not lie to compel the question as to whether the Department had fulfilled mandatory duties under the Act.
In Odette's this Court agreed that the petitioner there could not obtain relief directing the manner in which the Department responded in fulfilling its duties, but that the law required it to investigate and, if necessary engage in remedial action.
That is precisely what the Hazardous Site Cleanup Act (HSCA) directs the Department to do:
"Develop, administer and enforce a program to provide for the investigation, assessment and cleanup of hazardous sites in this Commonwealth ...." Section 301(1) of the HSCA, 35 P.S. 6020.301(1).