Environmental investigation launched as 300 tonnes of dead pigs found buried in east China hillside

Authorities in Zhejiang recruit independent team to assess site where meat lay rotting for four years

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 September, 2017, 4:49pm
UPDATED : Monday, 11 September, 2017, 10:21pm

Authorities in eastern China are conducting an environmental impact assessment after 300 tonnes of rotting pig remains were found buried in a hillside, state media reported.

The incident came to light when a resident of Huzhou in Zhejiang province reported a foul smell coming from the site to a member of a team of visiting officials who were on a nationwide environmental clean-up campaign, Xinhua reported on Monday.

An initial investigation by the city government unearthed the decayed pigs, which had been buried in 2013 and 2014 by a medical waste treatment company, the report said.

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A former manager of Huzhou Industrial and Medical Waste Processing Company – who is currently serving a prison sentence for a separate, unspecified, crime – was blamed for overseeing the illegal dumping, Xinhua said, without providing any other information about the suspect or what punishment he might face.

The government has employed an independent company to conduct an environmental impact assessment on the site, but this has yet find anything untoward, the report said.

Beijing Youth Daily quoted a resident as saying that people had been complaining about the stench for several years and of the local water source being contaminated.

Another local was quoted by Caixin magazine as saying that an “unbearable” and “nauseating” smell had been in the air for about four years.

A team of environmental protection inspectors, comprising officials from the environment ministry, and the Communist Party’s anti-graft agency and personnel department, were about to conclude a month-long visit to Zhejiang as part of a nationwide tour when they were alerted to the case.

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After referring the matter to the city government, a team was dispatched to excavate the site and the dead animals were found. Several people involved in the dig vomited because of the stench, the Beij ing Youth Daily report said.

Since the start last year of the inspection tour, more than 12,000 officials have been punished for lax implementation of China’s environmental laws and regulations. According to a report published on Sunday by Zhejiang’s official online news outlet, during the inspectors’ month-long visit to the province, they issued fines to 3,280 local firms and detained 273 officials for assorted offences.

In recent years President Xi Jinping has raised the status of environmental protection as a measure of the performance of party officials around the country. Along with poverty alleviation it is now regarded as a key performance indicator, and is demonstrative of the central government’s drive to tackle some of the environmental issues caused by decades of unchecked economic growth.

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Wang Jing, a campaigner for Greenpeace East Asia on food and agriculture issues said that the buried pigs incident reflected poor implementation of environmental protection standards on the part of the local government.

She said it also “highlighted the severely inadequate hazard-free processing facilities for animal waste in China”.