Monday, March 11, 2013
When Pigs Float
Shanghai has a water problem. Somehow more than 2,800 dead pigs wound up floating in one of the main rivers that supplies drinking water to the mega-metropolis of 23-million.
Local authorities claim the river water is still safe to drink but they are local authorities and this is China.
Nobody has figured out where the pigs came from yet. How some farmer can conceal the absence of nearly three thousand pigs is a bit tough to understand. Yet the animals show no sign of disease or any other obvious cause of death.
Apparently this is nothing new.
"You can see dead pigs here every year, but there are more now than in the past few years," a local man told the [state broadcaster CCTV].
The Jiaxing Daily newspaper in northern Zhejiang province quoted a villager as saying that over the past two months almost 20,000 pigs in his village have died of unknown causes. While Shanghai compensates its farmers for properly disposing of dead swine, the newspaper said, Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces lack a comparable incentive system, so farmers there often dump their pig carcasses directly into local rivers.
"The local authorities are conducting co-ordinated efforts to stop the dumping of dead pigs from the source," said China's official newswire Xinhua.
Experts say the groundwater in half of all Chinese cities is contaminated, most of it severely, and that soil pollution could be widespread in 15 of the country's 33 provinces.
A study released last year found that upwards of 40% of Chinese farmland is now contaminated by arsenic and heavy metals carried from factory smokestacks. China is in a race to salvage its agricultural production, a race that might already be lost.