Huangpu River Dead Pigs Reach 6,600: Is Shanghai Drinking Water Safe?

By Hilda Scott , Mar 13, 2013 02:23 PM EDT

Chinese authorities have now pulled 6,600 dead pigs out of a river that supplies drinking water to Shanghai. The swollen pig carcasses pulled out of the river may reach more than that total, but authorities say the city's water is not at risk.

Since Friday, sanitation workers have been seen pulling the rotting pig corpses from the water and, needless to say, this causes concern among the local residents. Although officials insist that the water is safe, porcine circovirus was found in a sample of the water. The World Health Organization says that this finding is not threatening to humans.

As CNN reports, a Shanghai water plant official said that the water can be purified.

"If the water is contaminated, we will put more the disinfectants and activated carbon to purify the water," said the official. Many residents are taking no chances and are drinking bottled water instead of "pork broth."

"There were dead pigs all around and they really stunk. Of course, we're worried, but what can you do about it? It's water that we have to drink and use," said one resident.

The pigs are believed to have been dumped in the Huangpu River by a local pig farm. Prison sentences were issued Wednesday in Zheijiang Province, where 46 people were convicted of selling meat from disease-infected pigs. The individuals were given sentences ranging from six months to as much as six and a half years in prison.

"Some dead pigs weighing more than 25 kilos were still being sold and making it onto people's dinner tables. But since the government arrested some tainted meat dealers, nobody comes to buy the stuff anymore. So it's normal that there are so many dead pigs in the river," said one local farmer.

The city is disposing of the dead pigs by incineration or disinfecting the corpses before burying them. 

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