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Dead Pigs in Shanghai River Prompt Health Worries

  • VOA News

Cleaning workers retrieve the carcasses of pigs from a branch of Huangpu River in Shanghai, March 10, 2013.

Cleaning workers retrieve the carcasses of pigs from a branch of Huangpu River in Shanghai, March 10, 2013.

​Environmental officials in China say that more than 2,200 dead pigs have been fished out of Shanghai's main waterway as of Monday, fueling concerns about the safety of the area's drinking water and criticism over the management of agricultural waste.

A statement on the city's Agricultural Committee web site said that pigs' parts had been sent to be tested to assess the cause of death. Initial results showed that some animals tested positive for porcine circovirus, a common swine disease that does not affect humans.

Huangpu River, Shanghai, China

Huangpu River, Shanghai, China

Authorities from the water supply bureau said that tests on water of the Huangpu river, where the hogs were floating, showed no contamination. They say they would continue hourly monitoring of the river's water quality.

Tap Water Safety Questioned

But online, many warned friends and family members in the area not to drink tap water.

“The relevant departments still dare say that this [the dead pigs] has no bad effect on the drinking water?” one Internet user wrote on his microblog account. “Friends from Shanghai, please be very careful what tap water you drink.”

Others blamed the government for turning a blind eye at the problem of agricultural waste in neighboring areas.

Authorities said that ear tags on the dead pigs traced them back to upstream towns in neighboring Zhejiang province, specifically farms in two counties called Jiaxing and Pinghu.

Possible Swine Epidemic

In March, local media reported on an increasing number of dead pigs dumped outside or in the river instead. Some Internet users picked up on these reports.

“Jiaxing is Shanghai next door neighbor, every month for the last three months there has been problems with over ten thousand pigs dead for a swine epidemic,” a user from Shanghai wrote on his microblog account.

“Shanghai has been hiding this fact and pretended like nothing is happening. Up until a huge number of pigs is dropped in the Huangpu river. Only then, ashamed, they just say 'No problem'. Is this the mark of a responsible city government?”

Authorities in Shanghai are still in the process of cleaning up the river, and said that 12 boats are still fishing the pigs out of the water.

Water pollution- often caused by fertilizer runoffs, chemical spills and untreated sewage - is one of China's most critical environmental problem.

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