1,000 Dead Ducks in Chinese River Follow 16,000 Pig Carcasses

Wednesday, 27 Mar 2013 11:36 AM

By Megan Anderle

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First 16,000 diseased pig carcasses were found floating in a Chinese river two weeks ago, now 1,000 dead ducks have been found in another river outside of Shanghai. What's going on?

The scene has worried residents of one of the world's largest cities about whether they're drinking and bathing with contaminated water. Shanghai officials have told residents not to worry.

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Officials discovered the ducks in 50 woven bags last Tuesday. The cause of death is unknown as some of the ducks were already decomposed by the time authorities got to them, the BBC News reported.

Liang Weidong, director of publicity for Pengshan County where the ducks were found, told China National Radio that the corpses originated upstream and weren’t dumped by farmers in the area.

Liang said the ducks' bodies had been disinfected and buried.

The Huangpu River, where officials pulled 16,000 pigs corpses, supplies drinking water to Shanghai – where there are 23 million residents.

One test showed the river’s water carries a pig-borne disease called porcine circovirus, local authorities told the Wall Street Journal Monday. Experts said that humans aren’t susceptible to the virus though.

Despite these statements, and the claim that the new contamination won't affect residents, locals are still very much concerned for their health.

“How can you tell they are harmless when you don’t know how the ducks died?” one user wrote on the Chinese social networking site Sina Weibo, in a translation by the Financial Times.

Officials pooled a number of resources to pull 11,040 dead pigs from Shanghai’s Huangpu river this month, and thousands more from neighboring Zhejiang province. The authorities told the BBC they're "basically finished" with extracting the carcasses after weeks of cleanup.

Some of the hogs found in Shanghai have been traced to Jiaxing in Zhejiang province. A farm in Jiaxing has admitted to discarding dead pigs in the river, though not all the pigs have been accounted for, Chinese news agency Xinhua reported on March 14.

The dumping of dead animals in China’s waterways has sparked criticism of the government’s environmental track record and the management of the nation’s livestock industry, Bloomberg reported.

"The dead ducks present us with a very practical problem, and show how society's bottom line is getting lower and lower," user If So wrote on Weibo.

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Related story:

China to Lose 2 Percent of GDP Cleaning Up Pollution

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