Health fears raised by discovery of pig carcasses in Chinese river


A pig carcass in the Gan river in Nanchang. Photo posted on Weibo by user aurora_dream.


Residents in south-east China have discovered to the horror dozens of dead pigs floating down a river that supplies their town’s drinking water. According to local media reports, Chinese authorities in Nanchang have pulled at least 163 pig carcasses from the Gan River.


The origins of the animal carcasses – discovered on March 16 – remain unclear. The local government says it has detected no abnormalities in the river’s water quality, having carried out tests at several treatment centres. With last year’s shock discovery of more than 16,000 pig carcasses in a river near Shanghai still fresh in the public’s mind, authorities are desperately trying to reassure people that the water is safe to drink. At the time, pig farmers were accused of throwing the animals – some of which carried an infectious disease – into the Huangpu River to get rid of them.


“It’s a sign of the moral crisis in our society”

Our Observer, Huo Daishan, is the founder of the NGO ‘Guardians of the Huai River’. His organisation fights to keep waterways clean in China. For him, there is no doubt that pig farmers are once again behind the grisly find.


Last year, when more than 10,000 pig carcasses were found in the Huangpu River in the Shanghai region, residents joked that there was a free ‘pork broth’ on tap. But joking aside, I cannot hide the disgust I feel when I see such acts. I am shocked that the same thing has happened again in another river. It’s even more reprehensible given that it violates environmental laws, as well as sanitation procedures, which specify that farmers bury or burn animals that die from epidemics to prevent the disease from spreading to humans.

These methods are not only illegal; they also go against our society’s traditional values. ‘Don’t do unto others what you don’t want others to do unto you’, as the old Chinese saying goes [often attributed to Confucius]. I’d like to know whether the people behind these acts would accept having pig carcasses dumped on their doorstep to pollute their community and the water they drink every day. For me, this demonstrates the moral crisis in our society. People blinded by money see no problem with breaking moral boundaries.


In this case, public officials should toughen up and enforce environmental protection laws already in place. But the general public also needs to get involved. More and more people in society are concerned by these issues, but their influence is limited. That’s why authorities must act to encourage the population to take responsibility. The war against the pollution of waterways must be a total war, involving all of society.