Five detained after discovery of 300 tonnes of diseased pig carcasses

A full investigation has been called following the discovery of 300 tonnes of dead pigs at three sites on Dayin Mountain, near the city of Hizhou

12 September 2017, 10:23am
Pens containing pigs at a farm located on the outskirts of Beijing September 7, 2012. Photo: Reuters
Pens containing pigs at a farm located on the outskirts of Beijing September 7, 2012. Photo: Reuters
Authorities in China have detained five people as an investigation into the finding of 300 tonnes of dead pigs in the southern mountains, state media said on Monday, the latest in a string of scandals over the illegal handing of sick livestock.

The remains were discovered towards the end of August at three sites on Dayin Mountain, near the city of Hizhou, when a local resident tipped off an inspection team from the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

Officials discovered that the carcasses had been dragged to the mountains and buried, instead of being burnt, which is not in accordance with regulations, the official Xinhua news agency said.

After they were removed from the sites, the animals were burned, according to a statement  to the Weibo microblog of the Huzhou government. “The burial spots have been sterilised and refilled, without any risk of an epidemic”, it said.

The company believed to be behind the latest scandal, the Huzhou Industrial and Medical Waste Treatment Co, buried the dead animals, which police estimate to have accumulated over four years, at three sites in the nearby mountains, Xinhua added.

A former manager of the company, Shi Zheng, now in jail for unrelated crimes, is suspected to have been responsible for the decision to bury the pigs and five suspects have been detained, Xinhua cited Huzhou police as saying.

China, home to the world’s largest swine flocks, as pork is its staple meat, has faced scandals over unexpected dead pigs before.

In 2013, more than 10,000 pig carcasses were found floating down a river, which supplies tap water to the commercial hub of Shangai, drawing attention to a disease-riddled farm industry.

In 2014, an undercover investigation by a state broadcaster China Central Television found that meat of diseased pigs was being sold at a market in eastern China’s Jiangxi province. Most of the animals had died of foot-and-mouth disease. As a result, eight government officials were fired due to the incident.

In terms of the most recent occurrence, the agricultural bureau ruled out foot-and-mouth disease and the H7 variant of avian flu, saying tests had found no threat of viruses spreading from the animals to humans.

Zhejiang authorities must “seek out and close loopholes in work to safely dispose of sick or dead livestock,” China’s agriculture ministry said on its website on Monday, calling for a full investigation.