Image credit: Du Shi Xiong.
The year’s most disgusting scandal continues floating downriver. Shanghai authorities are sticking to their line that the pig carcasses found in the city’s water supply, over 2,800 so far, pose no threat to residents’ health.
Shanghai Daily reports:
The dead pigs were mainly from Jiaxing in neighboring Zhejiang Province, the Shanghai government said yesterday.
By Sunday evening, more than 2,800 pigs had been removed from the river in Songjiang and Jinshan districts, authorities said.
Shao Qiliang, secretary general of the Shanghai Agricultural Commission, said the pigs had been dumped in the Huangpu River from family farms Jiaxing and drifted downstream.
The total number of carcasses is expected to increase. Workers were continuing to collect dead pigs from the river and the government was closely monitoring water quality, although no pollution has been found so far.
According to municipal officials at the Ministry of Public Security, there is an ongoing crackdown against gangs that purchase dead or sick pigs from farmers, effectively laundering the pork and sending dangerous meat to market.
Zhejiang police said officers have been investigating the trade in pork from sick pigs and their efforts were stepped up ahead of the lunar New Year celebrations last month.
In one operation last year in a village in Jiaxing, police arrested 12 suspects and confiscated nearly 12 tons of tainted pork meat.
An unnamed villager blamed this crackdown on the increased number of pig carcasses dumped in the river, speaking to the Jiaxing Daily the villager said: “Ever since the police stepped up efforts to crack down on the illicit market of sick pigs since last year, no one has come here to buy dead pigs, and the problem of pig dumping is worse than ever this year.”
Wang Xianjun, a government worker in Zhulin village, told the Daily: “We have limited land in the village,” he said. “We do not have that much land for burial.”
Lily Kuo, writing in the Atlantic, says the scandal highlights a seldom discussed source of China’s water pollution problem, agricultural waste:
Under Chinese law, farmers are required to take carcasses to their village or town’s community disposal site, or bury the animals with disinfectant, but many don’t. And as of 2010, agricultural pollution, which includes livestock and produce, surpassed industrial waste as China’s main pollutant.
In fact, waste related to animals made up about 90 percent of organic pollutants in China’s water, according to Wang Dong of the Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning. In a 2012 study from Huazhong University, waste from pigs, cattle, sheep, and other animals left 228,900 tonnes (252.6 tons) of biochemical oxygen demand, a standard measure for organic pollution, in part of the Han River in central China. Now, about 15 percent of China’s major rivers are too polluted for safe use, not just from local factories, but farmers who throw animal carcasses and waste into nearby streams.
Image credit: Gou Ben.
For those who prefer their comedy black, Xinhua has this:
Chinese Vice Minister of Agriculture Chen Xiaohua says all the dead pigs fished out have ensured the pigs will not come into contact with the public.
There, don’t you feel better now?