Almost exactly one year after a similarly disturbing discovery, more than 150 dead pigs were fished out of a Chinese river. This time the dead swine were found floating in the Gan River, in central Jiangxi province.

This year’s situation in the Gan River seems to be less severe, compared to last year’s catch, which neared 16,000 pig carcasses. The Gan serves as the main drinking water supply for Jiangxi’s capital city Nanchang, China’s state-run news source Xinhua News Agency reported. The report also quoted health officials, saying that the water was tested and is still safe for consumption.

A CCTV video report showed personnel dressed in safety gear pulling out the pig carcasses, and lining the river bank. The pigs had been tagged by their original owners, and authorities were able to determine the area from where the pigs came from: Zhangshu, a village in Yichun city. Yichun authorities however have yet to determine what farm the pigs came from, or the cause of death.

Dead Pig Huangpu Cleaning workers retrieve the carcasses of pigs from a branch of Huangpu River in Shanghai, March 10, 2013. Over 2,200 pigs have been found dead in one of Shanghai's main water sources, official media reported on March 11, 2013. Photo: Reuters

The discovery is less alarming for Chinese citizens, at least in terms of scale, than last year’s “hog wash” scandal. Last year’s floating pigs were found in a Shanghai water source, the Huangpu, and had ended up there after rural Shanghai farmers dumped the pigs further upstream. For several days it was unclear where the pigs had originated from but they were later determined to be from an upstream farm, which was hit by a common pig virus, porcine circovirus, infecting thousands of livestock. The virus, which is not harmful to humans, was responsible for quickly taking out a huge portion of the farm’s pig population, resulting in a disposal dilemma for farmers.

Apparently farmers were forced to dump their dead livestock in the river after recent government crackdowns on the illegal purchase of dead or sick pigs for pork products, in response to the country’s various food safety problems. As dead and sick pigs piled up in farms, farmers resorted to dumping them in the river.

Chinese law does dictate the appropriate way to dispose of livestock. According to Chinese law, farmers are required to bury the animals with disinfectant at a village or town’s designated community dump. As more pigs are fished out this year, it’s clear that the law is not enforced.