BARSTOW• Two desert lots off of Main Street which were once gas stations are now being treated for fume releases and leaking underground storage tanks, according to the State Water Board's GeoTracker website.

"The purpose of the cleanup is to protect human health and water quality," said Tom Gavigan, senior engineering geologist for the Lahontan Water Board.

At the corner of Barstow Road and Main Street, the former Arco gas station site is undergoing underground clean up, Project Manager Greg Fiol said. The lot has some fume releases and the company Arcadis is working on a remedial action plan under the direction of the Lahontan Water Board, according to Fiol.

At the corner of Coolwater Lane and Main Street, an old gas station lot has been vacant since 1992 and its case is still open, according to the GeoTracker website.

The California State Water Board recently updated its policy on these sites deemed a "low-threat" to human health, and the board is calling for "aggressive implementation" of cleanup plans, according to Gavigan and the Water Board website.

On Main Street in Barstow, there are currently eight active leaking underground tank cleanup sites that were once home to gas stations and about 22 closed and completed cases. Gas stations are ubiquitous in Barstow as the city is located at the intersection of several major highways including Interstate 15 and Interstate 40.

In the entire state there are an estimated 37,782 leaking underground storage tank cases currently active, with the average case being open for 17 years, according to the Environmental Protection Agency's website.

The new "Low-Threat Closure Policy" being implemented by the state is intended to "increase UST cleanup process efficiency and to preserve limited resources for the mitigation of releases posing a greater threat to human and environmental health," according to the official State Water Board resolution.

Contact Brooke Self at (760) 256-4123 or