What’s in Shanghai’s Rivers This Week? Try 500 Lb. of Dead Fish

But authorities say the water is safe to drink

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© Stringer China / Reuters

The dead pigs in a branch of Huangpu River

Last month, about 13,000 dead pigs were found in Shanghai’s Huangpu River. This week, it’s fish, according to the state-run China Daily newspaper, which reports that about 550 lb. (250 kg) of dead fish have washed up on the shores of a manmade river in the city’s Songjiang district since April 3. According to the China Daily, though, local authorities insist that the water is “stable and safe.”

(MORE: China: A River of Pigs and 5 Other Environmental Nightmares)

A video aired on Bloomberg TV shows rotting fish carcasses piled along the bank of suburban Shanghai’s Sijing pond, which BBC China says gives off an awful stench. A Songjiang water-authority representative surnamed Zhang told the China Daily that most of the dead fish were killed by illegal fishing methods such as electrocution and poisoning — not by pollution. Zhang said lab tests showed that the water quality “remains the same level as usual.”

(MORE: Thousands of Dead Pigs Pulled From Shanghai River, Prompting Contamination Fears)

According to the China Daily, this is not the first time a massive amount of dead fish have turned up in the area, which gets about 30% of its water from the Huangpu River, which winds through the center of the city. Liu Fengqiang, spokesman for the Songjiang district’s environmental department, told the China Daily that the dead fish were not connected to Huangpu’s rotting pigs. Liu also said the dead pigs and fish had nothing to do with the H7N9 bird-flu virus — which was found in two Shanghai poultry markets earlier this month and has already claimed the lives of six people.

(MORE: Bird-Flu Cover-Up? Chinese Social Media Out Possible Cases of Deadly Disease)

But while officials maintain there’s nothing to worry about, users of China’s Twitter-like social-media service Weibo are far more concerned. “First it is the smog, then it is the dead pigs and the bird flu, now it is the dead fish in the Songjiang river. What is going on with our environment?” one netizen wrote on his blog, according to BBC China. Yuan Yulai, vice director of the administrative law committee of the All China Lawyers Association, blogged that the pigs and fish died as heroes and people must thank them — after all, they must have absorbed all the poisons to make sure the water is as safe as the authorities claim.

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