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Exhibition reinvigorates ex-coal mine

Spoil tips greened, sewage pits cleaned, 4.5 million tons of detritus removed

An area of subsidence-hit waste ground that was formerly a coal mine has been transformed into a venue for the recently opened Tangshan International Horticultural Exposition.

More than a century of coal extraction had left the site, now known as South Lake Park, strewed with countless pits, according to Yao Shan-yong, deputy director of the coal-mining technology department at Kailuan Group Limited Liability Corporation, which operated the mine.

These pits were used to dump rubble and construction waste in the aftermath of a disastrous magnitude-7.8 earthquake in 1976 that leveled 97 percent of Tangshan's buildings and killed more than 200,000 people.

Zhang Wenming, head of South Lake Park's Administrative Committee, said the area became an eyesore known as "waste mountain".

This started to change in the 1990s, when subsidence had eased enough for low-rise buildings to be built and some small-scale voluntary tree planting to take place.

"A lot of waste was dumped in the pits and surrounding areas," said Zhang.

"Tangshan is a city born of coal-mining that lived on steelmaking, but this gave people the impression of a polluted city.

"The successful bid to host the exposition brought Tangshan new drive."

Hong Jinxiang, the committee official in charge of the park's greening work, said more than 1.4 million square meters of land had been planted with trees and grasses in the past few years, while 4.5 million metric tons of accumulated waste had also been removed.

"We made use of the former sewage pits and spoil tips to make the clear lakes and green mountains that a park needs," Hong said.

The park's Longshan and Fenghuangtai mountains were both former spoil tips that have been treated and greened, Hong said.

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