Wave of optimism abounds with shoreline project

2020-12-25 12:06:26

A drone-captured view of part of the coastline in Rizhao port, Shandong province, in 2018. The area is undergoing renovation for marine ecological protection, under China's first industrial port restoration and reconstruction project. [Photo/Xinhua] For more than a decade, Hu Xiaowen barely opened the windows of her apartment near the coal-handling areas of Rizhao port in East China's Shandong province. "After opening them for a while, the floor would be covered with coal soot," recalls Hu. "Even if I didn't open the windows, there would still be layers of coal soot indoors after a few days." Rizhao city has a coastline of 168.5 kilometers. A natural deepwater port for coal exports, Rizhao port was opened in 1986. It has grown to be a comprehensive, world-class port with an annual cargo throughput of over 400 million metric tons. However, as the city's urban areas have expanded in the past 30 years, the coal handled by the port has had a serious impact on the ecological environment and the lives of nearby residents. In addition, the busiest areas in the north of the port where the coal is processed are close to a renowned coastal scenic spot, and have disrupted the tranquil coastal landscape. In order to resolve the conflict between the development of the port and the city, and to improve the ecological environment, in 2015, Rizhao city decided to launch a port renovation and reconstruction project. In June 2016, the project, with a total investment of 15 billion yuan ($2.30 billion), was approved by the national financial and marine authorities, and was recognized as China's first industrial port restoration and reconstruction project. Since 2016, China has implemented a nationwide series of projects for marine ecological protection and restoration, involving 1,200 km of coastline and 23,000 hectares of coastal wetland. According to the project, the Shijiu port area of Rizhao port planned to move its two major coal-handling zones, each capable of handling 100,000 tons of coal, to the south, over 10 km away from the city's urban areas. In total, the project has vacated more than 133 hectares of industrial land at the port. Meanwhile, the local government has restored the ecological environment of the vacated shorelines, where a beach of about 2 km long and covering an area of 460,000 square meters, as well as several facilities such as museums and exhibition halls, have been built to better integrate the area with the city's coastal landscape. However, building an artificial beach on the vacated land was no easy task. According to Tang Shisheng, deputy director of the Rizhao Commission of Development and Reform, the coastline of Rizhao port is fairly straight, making it easy for the sand used for the artificial beach to be washed away. To solve the problem, Rizhao invited experts from Chinese and overseas universities and institutes to help devise a plan for building a curved shoreline along the vacated area and form a bay, creating a stable environment for the formation of a beach, which required 4.5 million cubic meters of sand. After more than two years of construction, the main part of the shoreline restoration and reconstruction project was completed in July 2019.The relocation and upgrading of the coal-handling areas of the port are proceeding according to schedule. Hu, an employee of Shandong Harbour Engineering, which is participating in the construction of the project, says now that the new beach is almost complete, her favorite thing to do each day is taking a stroll on the waterfront. "I have seen white dolphins and turtles in the sea," says Hu. "The environment has improved a lot. I'm no longer afraid to open the windows of my apartment." XINHUA