Regulators need access to investigate and clean up property contaminated with hazardous substances. That need to get onto property does not respect property lines or who may happen to own or occupy that land. Moreover, if regulators want responsible parties to do the investigation or the cleanup at an “enforcement lead” site, then private parties may need access. The Pennsylvania Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act (HSCA) and the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) provide statutory authority to enter. This column provides a review.

Section 503 of the HSCA generally covers the right of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to enter property to investigate either a release or a threatened release of a hazardous substance or to implement a response action. Section 104(e) of CERCLA governs the United States’ right of access and Section 104(j) authorizes the United States to acquire property when necessary to complete a response action.

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