On February 2, the dispatcher of Norilskgazprom enterprise over the radio reported a drop in pressure on the main gas pipeline Messoyaha – Norilsk. In the evening, the broadcast was interrupted by a message from the combine’s director Boris Kolesnikov: a serious accident had occurred. The Norilsk residents were urged to save warmth.
The German pipes did not stand extreme frosts near Messoyaha and burst for the first time in ten years of operation.
The deforming wave spread along the gas pipeline in a matter of minutes. The scale of the accident was shocking – the pipes exploded over 80 kilometers, both lines.
The headquarters for the accident elimination was created. The combine and the city switched to diesel fuel and coal. The temperature in houses dropped to ten degrees, schools and kindergartens were closed.
Voice of America reported: “Over the 69th parallel, the city of 250,000 freezes over”. Neither the management nor ordinary residents thought about the possibility of stopping the combine, but specialists worked out plans for the evacuation of children and women. If they had not found a way out, it was planned to start taking out the population on February 12.
It was the moment of truth for the Norilsk people: people themselves asked to help the authorities to deal with the accident. Troops of workers from all enterprises went to the restoration. About 400 people were involved in the liquidation. Even schoolchildren took part in it, who at school made dumplings for the brave repairmen who were restoring the gas pipeline.
The liquidators worked around the clock. The severity of the weather in the tundra was minus 50 degrees, but the gas was supplied to a minimum through the condensate pipeline. Not a single house was frozen. Norilsk passed the test.
In the last issue of the History spot photo project, we told about how the Norilsk people switched from a six-day working week to a five-day one.
Text: Svetlana Samohina, Photo: Nornickel Polar Division archive