A Kootenai County man accused of creating an illegal toxic waste dump above the Spokane Valley/Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer now faces some of the highest fines ever assessed by Idaho regulators for violation of environmental protection laws.
Wayne Galland, who runs a trucking and excavation business, faces $127,700 in fines, according to a violation notice this week from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality.
“It’s pretty much the maximum we can assess,” said Orville Green, administrator of the agency’s waste management and remediation division.
Marc Kalbaugh, who helped investigate the case for the DEQ, said the fines are “the highest penalty we’ve assessed in a case like this.”
A truck driver who hauled some of the waste blew the whistle on Galland in February. Days later, DEQ officials obtained a search warrant and found piles of trash and oil-soaked soil at Galland’s property at 1034 E. Chilco Road.
Galland could not be reached for comment Wednesday. He previously denied knowing about any illegal waste deposited on his property and blamed the incident on a long-standing financial dispute with the truck driver.
State officials say they have enough evidence for criminal charges, but the DEQ decided to pursue a negotiated agreement with Galland in hopes of avoiding a potentially lengthy court battle, Green said.
The priority now is removing the waste from the top of the aquifer, the main drinking water supply for most of Spokane and Kootenai counties. The water supply is about 300 feet below the toxic dump.
There’s no evidence petroleum or other chemicals have reached the groundwater, Kalbaugh said.
Although some chemicals cling to gravel and fine particles in soil, other potentially dangerous substances can seep downward with the help of rain and gravity.
“Certainly there is that potential,” Kalbaugh said.
“You can’t definitely say you’ll never have an impact to that groundwater.”
Because the investigation remains open, the DEQ will not release specifics on chemicals found at the site.
The agency has confirmed that an unspecified amount of petroleum was illegally dumped on the property.
The fines against Galland could be negotiated down if he presents evidence showing extenuating circumstances or that the violations did not occur, Green said.
Galland has until May 22 to set up a meeting with the DEQ to begin working on a cleanup agreement and time line.
The final fine amount will be determined in that agreement.
“He’ll have an opportunity to come in and give us the rest of the story,” Green said.
If Galland refuses to sign an agreement over the cleanup, he could face civil and criminal penalties, Green said.
In February when investigators searched the property, they discovered everything from construction waste to crushed metal storage barrels and an emptied 200-gallon gasoline tank.
Trenches and pits dug at the site also revealed the presence of soils soaked by petroleum and other chemicals. The notice sent to Galland on Monday lists 14 violations of state law, ranging from illegal dumping of hazardous waste to water quality infractions to the illegal burning of used oil.
The material originated at a closed industrial site on Huetter Road, between Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene.
It is believed to have been hauled to Galland’s property in February 2006.