Chornobyl Special Combine: Doing their work, they save Chornobyl
SSE «Chornobyl Special Combine» (ChSC) is an integral part of the infrastructure of the Exclusion Zone, which ensures the operation of facilities located in this territory and provides services to employees of the Exclusion Zone enterprises.
Big heart of the Exclusion Zone infrastructure
The real fans of what they do here, many of whom have spent all their lives in the Exclusion Zone. The personification of the most typical «liquidator», an enthusiast, devoted to the profession, is Mykhailo Bukov, the locksmith of the control and measurement equipment and automation section of the power and production department. Throughout the entire construction process of the «sarcophagus» that covered the fourth power unit after the explosion, he was one of the immediate and seemingly unobtrusive performers of critical and dangerous tasks, with a small cog, without which there would be no victory over the invisible enemy – radiation. For more than 30 years Mr. Bukov has dreamed of systematizing his memories of the events of the night of April 26, 1986 and putting them on paper, so that the future generations would have a testimony of an eyewitness, then a young man whose destiny mutilated a «peaceful atom».
And at the expense of great efforts, Mykhailo Bukov, now a 60-year-old experienced specialist, managed to write a memorable book «The Day of the Liquidator», where the memories of many of his colleagues, now scattered around the world, were also reflected. This book has become a peculiar gift to liquidators who have long been unable to come to the Exclusion Zone every year on April 26 to meet and talk.
«For a moment, I realized that there were so many people, events, and destinies around me. I'm not alone in this great world. I imagined an image - a tree. All my life is his trunk, and the branches that go from it are my work and deeds, these are meetings with other people, participation in their lives, my family, my children, relatives and friends. This is me and my whole life», – he writes in his book.
«Working on the elimination of the consequences of the Chornobyl accident for 32 years, I came across thousands of people. I had a lot of teachers, and I myself was a mentor: I worked with engineers from St. Petersburg, Moscow, Desnohorsk, Voronezh, Kursk, Kyiv, Siberia, and everyone has their own history. Many of my comrades are no longer among us – God bless their souls. Only the light memory of them and the memories of friends are left.
I do not think we are heroes. No one would dare to condemn us, but we came to Chornobyl ourselves and continued to do our work. Apparently, this was what we needed for ourselves. Sometimes, thinking hypothetically about the circumstances of my life back then, I ask myself: would I go to liquidate the Chornobyl accident if I had not already been connected with this land? And I answer: I do not know. Maybe we do not realize that this is a FATUM, FATE. However, I am firmly convinced of one thing: the adversary of the dark is always the power of light, and its name is LIQUIDATORS», – Mr. Mykhailo shares his thoughts.
«I stayed at work in the Exclusion Zone, I am still working in Chornobyl. My department is engaged in the repair of means of measuring and managing the thermal objects, providing Chornobyl with water, guarantees of the stable operation of the complex of treatment facilities, central boiler-house and gas station. We supply heat and water to every home of Chornobyl, where people live as well: those that ensure the implementation of measures in the Exclusion Zone and those related to the construction of a new safe confinement. Tasks are responsible and extremely necessary for people, albeit of a "peaceful" nature. This is Chornobyl», – Mykhailo Mytrofanovych says.
Important things sometimes consist of imperceptible parts
Employees of the «Chornobyl Special Combine» are responsible for their not always pleasant and noticeable work:
«Having worked for 25 years in public catering, I never thought that I would change the smell of kitchen and rolls into garbage cans and the cleaning of entrances, streets ... that is, to control all of this. Therefore, it is pleasant to me when visitors, former inhabitants of Chornobyl arrive to us, and note that it has become very good here. We see this as well. When the first flowers are melting and thriving, we try to do everything to make Chornobyl look like as if it was a civilian city, so for me it is a significant part of life. The collective of housing and communal services became my close as well. Thank God that the leadership of the Special Combine is absolutely open for establishing contact, with understanding the complexity of our work. Keeping the city in a decent form is not easy, because the buildings are very old, some were not repaired at all, there are problems with updating the furniture. However, we care that we have them clean, and this is the most important thing», – Kateryna-Olena Fedosenko, Director of the housing and communal complex of the State Enterprise «ChornobylService», says.
Ms. Katerina was born in Argentina (Buenos Aires), lived in the city of Prypiat, and since 1974 worked at various positions at the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Station. From the first days of the accident at the Chornobyl NPP she took direct active part in the liquidation of its consequences. The structural unit, which is currently managed by Kateryna Vasylivna, is responsible for providing housing and communal services to enterprises of the Exclusion Zone and residents of the city of Chornobyl, control of the maintenance of documentation for the building, engineering structures, improvement of the territory and providing favorable conditions for living and resting workers of the Exclusion Zone.
Culture and sport – as part of life
«The housing and communal services include various objects, the most interesting of which are greenhouses, sports complex «Dozvillia» and the House of Culture», – Kateryna Vasylivna continues the story of the city.
«Greenhouses are conditional greenhouses, small in size, located in the heart of Chornobyl. They function only due to the fact that in the housing and communal services there are real enthusiasts of their business. Here we grow garden material for our own needs and some kinds of flowers – roses, blackberry, etc. We grow up thing that grow well. Those who live in the city for more than one year, observe that, since May, everything blooms until late autumn.
The enterprise has created a sports team, which is constantly engaged in badminton competitions, volleyball, table tennis, mini-football, checkers, fast chess, billiards among the enterprises of the Exclusion Zone for the SAUEZM Cup.
Sports complex «Dozvillia» – two gyms – is of great demand for the workers of the Exclusion Zone. I go to the gym myself. We have recently purchased a modern, universal racing track. Today at both gyms there are sports competitions for the SAUEZM Cup, dedicated to the Day of the Chornobyl accident. And such competitions take place quite often.
We also have a beautiful House of Culture in Chornobyl with new music director Yuri Polyla. He has been working for us since recently, but he has already made three concerts and has been able to diversify the repertoire so that we are very pleased to participate in their preparation. He designed a showroom, in particular, showing pictures of Leonid Ondolko, a Chornobyl artist who recently died, but until the last day of his life did not forget us and passed his paintings to the exhibition.
For me, Chornobyl is a native, a nearby city, and therefore taking care of its welfare for me is a joy», – Kateryna Fedosenko concludes her story.
The trade union is at duty of worthy conditions of work
Also, the enterprise has a trade union, which until 2016 was headed by Valentyn Ryzhuk. He took an active part in reinstatement of payments to employees of enterprises for work in the Exclusion Zone, as well as in the work of commissions for the preparation of the Sectoral Agreement between the State Agency of Ukraine on Exclusion Zone Management and the Atom Trade Union. He was one of the participants in the creation of the «Zirka Polyn» Memorial and a memorial complex for the deceased participants in the Chornobyl accident response in the Glory Park in Chornobyl.
«The Exclusion Zone plays an important role in my life. During 25 years of my work (a quarter of a century!) at the enterprises of the Exclusion Zone, I realized myself as a person, got acquainted with a large number of people and got a lot of friends. For 10 years as the head of the primary trade union organization I had to solve (together with the trade union team, of course) many problems for ensuring the stable operation of the Exclusion Zone. For the most part, the problem was to get benefits and compensations by all workers of the 30-kilometer zone. Today we have fulfilled this task, and I am not ashamed to look at people's eyes.
My dream for the future is a union united by a team of workers of the Exclusion Zone, which, jointly, by such a powerful "fist" solves any pressing problems», – Valentyn Ryzhuk says.
Another important function assigned to the company is to provide a check-point regime. SSE «Chornobyl Special Combine» provides round-the-clock coordination of work of duty and operational divisions of enterprises of the Exclusion Zone, provides enterprise personnel with permits and technical documents on the issues of the check-point regime, coordinates the interaction between the enterprise's management and SAUEZM in the event of emergencies. However, even such a seemingly routine work for the workers in the Exclusion Zone is of particular importance:
«For over 30 years of work in Chornobyl this place has already become my homeland. I do care what will happen to this land, with this locality, therefore, I continue to work here, where I was a specialist, where I met my wife, who works here too, more than 20 years ago. To me, in the end, I like this work, which do not often happen in life», – Volodymyr Verbytskyi, an operational duty officer of the Operations Department and providing the check-point regime of the SSE «Chornobyl Special Combine», says.