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Dead pigs in Shanghai water supply don't ring alarm bells for Chinese officials

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Eugene Hoshiko/AP

(Read caption) Workers look for dead pigs floating on the river Monday, March 11, 2013 on the outskirts of Shanghai, China.

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Here’s a riddle for you: When is the discovery of 2,813 dead and rotting pigs in a major city’s water source not a public health problem?

Answer: When the discovery is made in China.

The Shanghai water bureau, which oversees the water consumed in China’s largest city, was insisting on Monday that tap water derived from the Huangpu River met national standards despite the presence of the decomposing pigs.

All I can say is that I am glad I live in Beijing, not Shanghai.

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Truly disgusting photographs of bloated porcine carcasses on a riverbank have appeared in many Chinese papers and websites, drawing attention to what seems – believe it or not – to be a relatively common occurrence.

When pigs die of disease, farmers who cannot be bothered to bury the animals just toss them into the nearest river.

Local residents of one pig-rearing village upstream from Shanghai told the national broadcaster China Central Television on Sunday that disposing of dead pigs in the river was a common practice. “After the pigs died of illness, [they] just dumped them in the river … constantly. Every day,” one villager said.

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