Welcome to Black Dragon River (a.k.a the Stinking Sewer)

There is a little stretch of river in the city of Shenzhen in Guangdong province where black water meets an endless stream of human filth. The place apparently doesn’t have a name, but some online commentators have referred to it as Black Dragon River (黑龙江), substituting the name of one of China’s provinces to highlight the overwhelmingly black color of the river. The local people who endure living in this place have simply taken to calling it the Stinking Sewer (臭水沟). Located right next to a number of factories as well as an electronic wholesaler and resident blocks – all of whom disgorge their garbage straight into the river – Black Dragon River is already for years now a black, stinking hole.

Naturally online commentators have offered various amounts of money for the head of the local environment protection bureau to take a swim in Black Dragon River. Yet as one journalist from Shenzhen Evening News went to see for himself, people do live there, and have been doing so for years. All this time, Black Dragon River has been black and filthy.We reported last week how Jin Zhengmin (金增敏), a businessman from Zhejiang province, offered to give the head of the local environment protection office 200,000 yuan if he swam in a polluted river in Ruian (瑞安市) in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province. As the front page of the Shenzhen Evening News reports today, ever since Jin made this call on his Weibo account on 16 February, use of the phrase “Environment protection bureau chief please go swim in the river” (请环保局长下河游泳) has become popular on the Chinese Internet. Said environment protection bureau chiefs are now being offered much larger sums to go take a dip in some polluted river.

One such request highlighted by the Shenzhen Evening News came from a Weibo user in Shenzhen with the username @胖小谦 (Fat Little Modesty). On Saturday last week, this user uploaded a picture of a river in Bao’an (宝安) in Shenzhen, adding that everybody who went anywhere near it recoiled from the stench. He called the place Black Dragon River (黑龙江). Various other people echoed his calls for the bureau chief to go and wade in the black water, with some pledging more money as a reward.

Noticing these conversations on Weibo, a journalist from Shenzhen Evening News went over to this so-called Black Dragon River to see for himself, and his report confirmed the hideous nature of this place. Situated right next to a wholesale electronics market (益华电子城旁) in an industrial zone in Shenzhen, Black Dragon River is a small section of the Shajing (沙井) River that links further south with the Zhujiang River Estuary. The journalist’s first impressions of the place went as follows:

When the journalist was still 200 meters away from the river, filthy fumes started assaulting his nostrils. The muddy stream itself was the color of blackest ink; looking up over a hundred meters on the course of the river, the sludge was rendered completely black.

The residents living nearby told the journalist that for all the six or seven years they have been living at the spot, the river was always as black as it is presently. The fumes in particular have been very difficult to live with all along, especially in time of summer when a plague of mosquitoes makes the place even more unbearable. The local residents informed the journalist that Black Dragon River doesn’t actually have a name, so they just call it the Stinking Sewer (臭水沟). The name is indeed apt, as the local factories and residents all dump their sewage in the river.

Soon after seeing this horrible sight, the journalist put through a forlorn call to the Bao’an Environment Protection Bureau and Water Affairs Office, but the line just rang and rang, and no-one answered. No-one will save Black Dragon River.


Links and sources
Shenzhen Evening News (深圳晚报): “请环保局长下河游泳”

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