Tens of thousands of dead pigs were transported to and buried in a fishing village in China over the past three weeks, which local residents were unaware of until the odor of rotting flesh permeated the entire village.
It was revealed that the burials started on July 29, shortly after county-level officials held a secret meeting with village officials.
While an official from County Agricultural and Rural Bureau promised to solve the problem after the villagers appealed to local authorities, police were sent to silence the villagers.
Huanyu Village of Rudong County in 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 the cultivation and annual production of more than 100,000 TEUs (20-foot equivalent units) of plants. Moreover, it serves as a wholesale market for seaweed, and attracts international customers from Japan and South Korea.
The instruction to bury the carcasses along the village’s coastline came from the county government, a villager told the Chinese-language edition of The Epoch Times, on condition of anonymity. Officials from the county government made the decision without the villagers’ consent during a secret meeting with village officials held at midnight on July 28.
“Local residents were kept in the dark for many days. Occasionally, a few dead pigs were found in 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 40s. In my whole life, I have never smelled anything as bad as these rotten pigs before. It is really unbearable,” he added.
The villager who spoke with The Epoch Times said he learned from village officials that about 350,000 pig carcasses are buried there.
On Aug. 14, some villagers were able to identify the source of the odor by tracing it to the burial area; they also learned that there had been an outbreak of African swine fever in the county that killed thousands of pigs, and something had to be done with the carcasses.
There are more than 30 pits in the burial site, and each pit is covered with only a thin layer of plastic film.
Because the pig bodies are partially exposed in the summer heat, the rotting flesh has produced a foul odor. Villagers are worried that the swelling plastic film may rupture 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 remedy the problem.
On Aug. 19, officials from the County Agricultural and Rural Bureau agreed to meet with the villagers. The bureau’s deputy director promised to halt the burial of dead pigs in the village; surround the burial site with a 2.8-meter-tall (about 9 feet) steel wall to minimize the spread of the odor; dig trenches outside the wall to prevent toxic and odorous substances from leaching into the ground and water table; cover the entire burial site with plastic film and use sewage control trucks to remove blood and odors; direct the county to conduct long-term water quality monitoring and publicize the test results; allow villagers to check the progress and ensure that the steps he outlined would be fulfilled to villagers’ satisfaction.
However, not only did the local authorities breach all the promises, local police—at the order of county officials—began intimidating villagers who were leaders in the petitioning activity.
The man who spoke with The Epoch Times said another villager called for protesters to block a nearby highway and hold up banners on Aug. 21. Police learned about the plan and a large number of officers arrived at the gathering site to stop the demonstration.
Local authorities have blocked the flow of information so that outsiders won’t know what happened in Huanyu Village, the man added.
Another villager, who complained on the village’s WeChat group, wrote, “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.
Epoch Times reporter Gu Xiaohua contributed to this report.