Rat and frog carcasses were discovered by water safety inspectors visiting Camp Pendleton, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
Rats rotting on a reservoir gate, a dead frog clinging to a ladder and a rodent carcass floating in treated water were found by inspectors during a June visit to the Marine Corps base.
Despite the nauseating discovery, Camp Pendleton officials say the water — consumed by some 55,000 Marines and their families — is safe, and that there is no need to boil water or take other precautions, according to a memo circulated by the base’s leadership.
“Simply put, the water is and has been safe to drink,” base spokesman Carl Redding told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “Camp Pendleton is committed to providing safe and compliant drinking water. This is a duty and responsibility that we take very seriously.”
State and federal investigators, however, found “significant deficiencies” in the systems comprising the base’s water treatment program. According to the Environmental Protection Agency report, Camp Pendleton “lacked adequate supervision and qualified operators for treatment and distribution.”
After the base failed the June inspections, the “USMC removed the animal remains and cleaned, refilled, and tested the reservoirs for total coliform and chlorine.” Additional testing to ensure the water is safe to drink will be conducted, according to the EPA release.
On Sept. 28, the Marine Corps and the EPA entered into a consent decree, forcing the base to comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act. Under the decree, the Marine Corps has 180 days to shut down, inspect, clean and sample all Camp Pendleton reservoirs.
“Public water systems must meet all state and federal requirements to provide safe drinking water to their customers,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Our priority is to ensure the base achieves compliance promptly, to serve those who live and work at Camp Pendleton.”