The headquarters of the operational group of the Ministry of Coal Industry was located in a small house at number 26 on Sovetskaya Street in the city of Chernobyl, where before the accident there was a district department of public education. There are five people in the leadership of the headquarters. It was headed by the Minister of Coal Industry of Ukraine N. Surgay. The walls of the small room where the minister and his assistants settled were hung with drawings, graphs, diagrams. Data for each day, for each shift, for every hour of miners' work converges here.
- Our team numbers 388 people, - Of which 154 are miners from the Moscow basin and 234 from the Donbass. They worked as one friendly family, and therefore the matter was argued. And the task before us, frankly, was a difficult one. - It was required, before going underground to the base of the fourth block, to lay a 136-meter tunnel, conduct communications on it and lay rails for trolleys.
The diameter of the tunnel is small, only eighty meters. About fifty meter high - sixty meter. Then the camera is about thirty to thirty. The specialists of the Ministry of Environment were supposed to mount refrigeration units in this chamber. True, the miners did almost all the work for them. The main difficulty at first was radiation.
Where they started, it reached 3-4 x-rays per hour. The entrance to the tunnel was from the third block. But when they entered the face, it was established in acceptable standards. The work was carried out by the forces of integrated teams, each of them consisted of drifters and machine operators, electric fitters, crane drivers and bulldozers. These teams carried out the tunnel to the so-called slab under the reactor. The last five to six meters passed by hand.
The miners carried out work around the clock in eight shifts. Each worked for three hours. Any member of the brigade knew what he should do during this time. All shifts are united in a “shift”. The term of work at the station of each "shift" is fifteen days. There were three squads that performed the task. Two weeks each. The first detachment almost went through the tunnel, the second completed the tunnel and started digging the chamber, and the third already completed it and helped to mount the refrigerators.
All work was carried out in a gentle manner - three hours each shift. The task was to do everything in more than three months, and the miners did in a month with a little. Almost three times faster! There were set records that would never be repeated. The guys took away shovels from each other. The change comes, and they are told, our two more minutes.
Not all miners were selected. They took the best drifters. Here it was - the night shift came out, the day shift arrived, people were loaded onto buses again home: take razors, say goodbye to relatives.
All miners were given respirators with petals, but they were not particularly worn - it was impossible to work in them because the tunnel was hot and there was nothing to breathe. It’s worth mentioning right away that none of the miners worked naked. All the tunnels were dressed in a light white robe, like the station workers. Health status was monitored strictly. A day later, blood was taken for analysis. If the tests are bad, they were not allowed to change. In general, the organization was amazing, so was the feeding.
As a result, a huge concrete system filled with pipes and special equipment was mounted under the reactor. All this massive construction was supposed to eliminate the danger of groundwater contamination.