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China’s Soup du Jour: Duck


First pigs, now ducks. Why can’t China keep dead animals out of its rivers? About 1,000 dead ducks were discovered in a river in southwest China, just two weeks after thousands of dead pigs showed up in a different river.

The pigs floated along a river that bisects Shanghai and provides around 22 percent of its drinking water. Nearly 11,000 pigs have been fished out so far, attracting international attention to Chinese water pollution. Even Jay Leno got in on the act. But the ducks’ appearance makes the story even more absurd, as the FT reports:

News of the latest dead animal flotilla comes from Pengshan county in China’s Sichuan province, where a local government official told state radio at the weekend that partially decomposed ducks had been found in 50 to 60 woven plastic bags floating in the Nanhe river.

Like the Shanghai authorities, he said the ducks posed no danger to the local water supply. And like the dead pigs that have been found floating in Shanghai’s Huangpu river over the past fortnight, the cause of death of the ducks remains unknown.

State media quoted the Pengshan official as saying that the duck carcases had been disinfected and buried, and “pose no threat to humans or livestock along the banks of the river” which is not a drinking water source.

Beijing authorities would love to see stories like these die quietly, but China’s version of Twitter, Weibo, is keeping them in the spotlight. Activists hope to force the government to take China’s pollution problem seriously.

Cleaning up China’s polluted environment will be a massive task and take many years to complete. But in the meantime, surely authorities can crack down on polluters enough to prevent the next “dead animal flotilla,” right?

[Image of Chinese workers cleaning a Suzhou canal in Nov. 2012 courtesy of Gwoeii/Shutterstock]

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