In just five days Chinese authorities have pulled out over 2,800 pig carcasses
from the river that supplies 80% of Shanghai's drinking water
. They are now scrambling to stop the rotting carcasses in the Huangpu River floating down to China’s most populous city. But many residents have little faith in the authorities, as it appears they have ignored the build-up of tens of thousands of carcasses over the last two months.
Workers cleaning up the pig carcasses
On Monday, the authorities found traces of the porcine circovirus in the water, prompting speculation the pigs died from a water-borne epidemic. A preliminary investigation suggests farmers from Zhenjiang province dumped dead pigs into the river, which then floated down the Huangpu towards Shanghai. The question on the lips of many Shanghai residents is not just whether polluted water killed the pigs, but whether the dead pigs are now polluting the water.
The Shanghai Water Supply Bureau says there is no evidence the carcasses have affected drinking water quality, but they say they are racing against time to pull out the pigs as soon as possible. However, France 24 contacted Peter Bosshard
from the organisation ‘International Rivers
’, who believes the dead pigs are “certainly a major public health risk to Shanghai’s water supply”. Ami Sanyal
, France 24 Observer living in Shanghai, says while he always drinks mineral water, he is now boiling water before using it to wash.
The authorities are also under fire for being slow to react. Shanghai resident Huang Beibei was the first to raise the alert when he posted photographs on his blog and Weibo
Huang Beibei's Weibo post. Translation: "That is the water we drink! In Hengliaojing Section of upstream Huangpu River, the "first class water resources protection area", the carcasses can be seen everywhere in the river, and it smells. What are the government departments doing? It is not the first or second time. The government departments are always indifferent"
This prompted reporters from the state-run Jiaxing Daily newspaper
to speak to villagers in Zhenjiang province. The Jiaxing Daily reported residents claimed to have seen tens of thousands of pig carcasses in January and February. And yet, work to pull them out only began last week.
Screenshot of Jiaxing Daily newspaper's Weibo post claiming tens of thousands of pigs have died since January.