A Thriving Fishing Village in China Polluted Because of African Swine Fever

350,000 Dead Pigs Dumped in the Village, Causing Dreadful Odor

Tens of thousands of dead pigs were transported to and buried in a fishing village in the past three weeks. Local residents didn’t know about it until the odor of rotting flesh permeated the whole village. It was revealed that the burials started on July 29, shortly after county-level officials held a secret meeting with village officials.

An official from County Agricultural and Rural Bureau promised to solve the problem after the villagers appealed to local authorities. However, instead of fixing the problem, the authorities sent in police to silence the villagers.

Huanyu Village of Rudong County in eastern China’s Jiangsu Province is a fish farming village with nearly 5,000 mu (824 acres) of whiteleg shrimp ponds. The village also produces seaweed, with a total area of 35,000 mu (5,766 acres) dedicated to seaweed cultivation and an annual production of more than 100,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) of plants. Moreover, it serves as a wholesale market for seaweed, and attracts international customers from Japan and South Korea.

A villager told the Chinese-language Epoch Times, on condition of anonymity, that the instruction to bury the carcasses in the village came from Rudong County government, along the village’s coastline. Officials from the county government held a secret meeting with village officials at midnight on July 28, and made the decision without consent of the villagers.

“Local residents were kept in the dark for many days. Occasionally a few dead pigs were found inside the village on the side of a road, but the villagers did not pay much attention,” he said. “Now the whole village is overwhelmed by an obnoxious odor, to the point that people have to keep their windows closed all the time. It is so pervasive that many have lost their appetite or have been vomiting.”

“I am in my forties. In my whole life, I have never smelled anything as bad as these rotten pigs before. It is really unbearable,” he added.

It was on Aug. 14 that some villagers identified the source of the odor, by tracing it to the burial area. They learned that there was an outbreak of African Swine Fever in the county that killed thousands of pigs. Something had to be done with the carcasses.

There are more than 30 pits in this burial site, and each pit is only covered with a thin layer of plastic film.

According to the villager who spoke with the Epoch Times, he learned from village officials that roughly 350,000 pig carcasses are buried there.

Because the pig bodies are partially exposed and it is very hot in the summer, the rotting flesh has produced a lot of gas. Villagers are worried that the swelling plastic film may explode one day, causing the odor to become stronger and spread further.

The outraged villagers spontaneously organized themselves to protect the village. They took turns guarding the burial area 24 hours a day, so they could intercept vehicles bringing in more pig bodies. Some other villagers relentlessly petitioned different levels of government agencies to do something to remedy the problem.

On August 19th, officials from the County Agricultural and Rural Bureau agreed to meet with the villagers. The deputy director from the bureau made six promises: 1. Stop burying dead pigs in the village; 2. Surround the burial site with a 2.8-meter tall steel wall to minimize the spread of the odor; 3. Dig trenches outside the wall to prevent toxic and odorous substances from leaching into the ground and water table; 4. Cover the entire burial site with plastic film and use sewage control trucks to remove blood and odors; 5. County’s Environmental Protection Bureau to conduct long-term water quality monitoring and publicize the test results; 6. Villagers are allowed to check the progress on-site, and all these promises to be fulfilled to the villagers’ satisfaction.

However, not only did the local authorities breach all these promises, local police began intimidating the villagers who were leaders in filing the petitions. Apparently, county officials ordered the police to do so and provided the names of the petitioners.

According to our information source, a villager called on his fellow villagers to scale up the protest by blocking national highway 328 and holding up banners on Aug. 21. Police learned about the plan and a large number of officers arrived at the gathering site before villagers got there and stopped them.

Another villager then complained on the village’s WeChat group saying, “Two days have passed since someone made the promises, yet nothing has been done. The stinky odor is overwhelming and unbearable. Why is it so difficult for them to immediately take action, such as covering the pits with more earth? Someone said that a police car is patrolling the area. Does that mean there will be a crackdown similar to what happened in Tiananmen Square in 1989?”

Police arrested the writer of the message.

Our source said that local authorities blocked the flow of information so that outsiders won’t know what happened in Huanyu Village.

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Author: Olivia Li

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