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Thousands Of Dead Pigs Clog Shanghai's Main Water Source

Dead pigs collected by sanitation workers from Shanghai's main waterway on Monday.
Peter Parks
AFP/Getty Images
Dead pigs collected by sanitation workers from Shanghai's main waterway on Monday.

Authorities have pulled more than 2,800 dead pigs out of Shanghai's main source of tap water — the Huangpu River. And they're still counting, according to reports on Monday.

The discovery has raised fears of drinking water contamination in China's most populous city, although state media reports that officials have run tests and determined that so far there's nothing to fear.

NPR's Frank Langfitt says Shanghai officials first discovered the pig carcasses last Tuesday in one of the Huangpu's tributaries and that the city has been using dozens of barges to pick up the bloated swine. The number of carcasses was sure to rise, he says.

According to Xinhua, a sample of river water has tested positive for porcine circovirus, which affects pigs but cannot be spread to humans.

A preliminary inquiry has found that the dead pigs originated in Zhejiang province, which is south of Shanghai and upstream on the Huangpu, The New York Times reports.

The newspaper says:

"Many Chinese are expressing growing concern over air, soil and water pollution. In recent weeks, several official news organizations have run articles and editorials casting a spotlight on pollution of some of China's major waterways. In one prominent case, a 39-ton chemical spill on Dec. 31 from a fertilizer factory in Shanxi province affected two other provinces downstream. Local officials had delayed reporting the chemical spill for five days.

"A statement issued Monday by the Shanghai government and posted on its Web site said that there were piglets as well as adult animals weighing hundreds of pounds. Residents in Songjiang District, the area southwest of downtown Shanghai where most of them have been discovered, said this was not the first time they had seen dead pigs in the Huangpu River. But this time, the number was higher than in the past, according to the city government's statement."

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Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.
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