"Start-up of Irkutsk Hydroelectric Power Station is the great holiday for the Soviet power industry. Irkutsk Hydroelectric Power Station opened a new epoch in development of electrification of the country".
Academician G.M. Krzhizhanovsky, the author of the Plan of the Russian State Electrification Committee
Natural resources of the Angara area drew attention of researchers during the pre-revolutionary time; researches held at that time concerned mainly mineral resources.
The beginning of research works in the field of water-power engineering is dated by 1924-1925. Then, after revising the Plan of the Russian State Electrification Committee by engineer V.M. Malyshev, the work "Lena-Baikal area and prospects of its electrification" was performed, where the question of all-union value of stocks of the Angara hydraulic power was brought up for the first time.
The first five-year plan stipulated the wide complex research works on the Angara with a view to prepare for the organization of a large power industry base in the Eastern Siberia focused on power-consuming industries. RUR 15-20 million were assigned to study of the Angarsk problem by the first five-year plan. Since that moment, the problem of the Angara River became recognized as a national and economic problem.
Actually complex researches on the Angara began in 1930, when the Administration for study of the Angarsk problem was created in the Supreme Council of National Economy. In 1931 this Administration was called the Angara Bureau and was included in Hydroenergoproekt Trust.
In 1935, under the supervision of Professor V.M. Malyshev, the first stage of research works on the problem of the Angara was finished. The result of it was the scheme of the use of the top site of the Angara, the schematic project of the prime Baikal "Irkutsk" hydroelectric power unit, and technical and economic scheme of the Baikal area complex of the industrial enterprises, consumers of its energy.
These materials in 1936 were considered by the commission of experts of the State Plan of the USSR. The result of consideration was the decision on construction of six hydroelectric power stations on the Angara River forming the continuous cascade.
Irkutsk Hydroelectric Power Station, the upper one, was planned to be the first of all Angarsk hydroelectric power stations. In 1948 the Irkutsk Hydroelectric Power Station was included in the title list of design and exploration works of MOSGIDEP Hydroenergoproekt Trust.
Georgyi Nikolaevich Sukhanov was appointed Chief Engineer of the project; P.M. Stalin and V.V. Letavin were appointed architects.
By the end of the next year, the project of Hydroelectric Power Station was developed and approved, and in January 1950 the Government of the USSR took the decision on construction of Irkutsk hydro-unit. Its construction started in a month. A special construction administration was organized, which was called Angaragesstroy, for performance of works on construction of Irkutsk Hydroelectric Power Station in the system of Glavgidroenergostroy of the Ministry of Power Stations.
Angaragesstroy performed all civil and erection force account works.
From January 1, 1955 Angaragesstroy was translated to a contract conduit, and from that time works on construction of Irkutsk Hydroelectric Power Station were continued by Angaragesstroy on the basis of the contract with Management of Irkutsk Hydroelectric Power Station, which was in the process of construction.
Within the limits of Angaragesstroy, construction managements of the basic manufacture were organized:
- Management for Construction of Hydroelectric Power Station, which was engaged in construction of the hydroelectric station, interfacing constructions, booster pumping substations, power and discharge channels within the limits of the foundation trench fenced by puncheons;
- Management for Construction of Dams and Channels, which made works on construction of all dams, and discharge channels outside the puncheons of the foundation trench of the Hydroelectric Power Station, and also right-bank pump and water-fence of the city water supply;
- Management for Works Mechanization, which was engaged in mechanization of land-rock and concrete works on the basic constructions;
- Management for the Civil Construction, which built settlements, water, sewer mains, and motorways;
- Management for the Industrial Construction, which was in charge of construction of the auxiliary support enterprises. Upon termination of their construction, since 1954, this management was spun off into the independent balance and was engaged in performance of contract works, which were assigned to Angaragesstroy by other ministries.
The following trusts were involved in performance of specialized works on the contract basis:
- Hydromontazh - installation of steel constructions and elevating mechanisms;
- Spetshydroenergomontazh - installation of the capital equipment in the building of the Hydroelectric Power Station;
- Spetselektromontazh - installation of the electric and technical equipment of the building of the Hydroelectric Power Station and substations;
- Hydrospetsstroy - cementation and waterproofing works.
According to the project of the hydro-unit, it was necessary to construct temporary and auxiliary constructions and the enterprises in the amount of 312 thousand m3, settlements for accommodation of the building staff with a living space of 90 thousand m2 including buildings of cultural and community purpose in the amount of 135 thousand m3, automobile and railway network of 69 km, and water and sewer mains of 63 km.
Andrey Efimovich Bochkin was appointed Chief of Angaragesstroy; Sergey Nikandrovich Moiseyev was appointed Chief Engineer.
Construction of the dam was headed by Anton Melnikonis, competent and skilled hydraulic engineer. Sergey Leonidovich Malinovskyi, Chief of the site at the basic constructions, and A.I.Kushnir, Chief for Preparation of the River Bed, arrived from Zapadnaya Dvina.
R.J. Kruter became Head of the Department of Civil Construction. Graduates from many high schools of the country arrived in the famous construction site. They engaged in the work from the first days of construction, they joined in the organization of the process and upon termination of construction they became large-scale organizers.
Nikolay Frantsevich Salatsky, Secretary of the Party, became the life and soul of the builders' team.
A lot of difficulties appeared during realization of the project of Irkutsk Hydroelectric Power Station; builders had not had experience in construction of such hydroelectric stations before. It was planned to construct a gravel and sand dam of more than 2.5 km in length, and 240-meter reinforced concrete building of Hydroelectric Power Station combined with it, where it was planned to mount 8 units of the total capacity of 660 thousand KW. Such combination of the dam and the building of Hydroelectric Power Station, as well as gravel and sand dam construction, was designed for the first time; such a great fill dam was designed for the first time in the world.
The Hydroelectric Power Station was under construction in seismic "up to 8 magnitudes" zone, and the best building material in these conditions were gravel and sand, which move and are firmed at earthquakes.
Feature of construction of Irkutsk Hydroelectric Power Station was also the fact that it was erected on the powerful, ice cold and fast river in severe climatic conditions. Ideally pure Angarsk water made special demands to quality of concrete casting. In June 1954, the foundation stone was laid in the future building of the Hydroelectric Power Station, which was the beginning of concrete casting.
On July 7, 1956, the Angara River was shut off during 16 hours, and its waters were turned through construction of the building of the Hydroelectric Power Station, and on December 29, 1956, in 82 months from the beginning of works, the first unit of Irkutsk Hydroelectric Power Station was engaged in the network. In a day, on December 31, at 23 o'clock (Moscow time), the second unit delivered the current.
Academician G.M. Krzhizhanovsky, the author of the Plan of the Russian State Electrification Committee, congratulated the team of hydraulic engineers and builders by sending the following telegram: "Start-up of the Irkutsk Hydroelectric Power Station is the great holiday for the Soviet power industry. The Irkutsk Hydroelectric Power Station opened a new epoch in development of electrification of the country".
The salutatory telegram was sent also by academician A.V. Vinter: "The old dream of the Soviet engineers came true: Baikal and Angara is a Siberian miracle, a pearl of the Soviet water-power engineering, and now it started working for the people".
138.6 thousand ha were in the zone of flowage and underflowage of the Irkutsk water basin, including 32.3 thousand ha of the land used in agriculture, more than 200 settlements, the site of Irkutsk-Listvyanka highway and Irkutsk-Podorvikha-Baikal railway.
3.3 thousand yards (17 thousand people) were resettled during the period of the station construction. The industrial enterprises were moved to new places, and new settlements were constructed instead of old ones.
The motorway was constructed on the right bank of water storage basin from Irkutsk to Listvyanka settlement. The railway main line was built from Irkutsk along the valley of the Olkha River through the pass up to Slyudyanka. Slyudyanka-Posolskaya site of Krugobaikalskaya railway were strengthened in connection with change of the household mode of Lake Baikal.
Expenses for preparation of the zone of flowage equaled 12.4 % of the total estimate of construction. None of hydroelectric stations all over the world had such relatively small expenses for flowage.
The Irkutsk water storage basin was filled within seven years. During this period the backwater from dam has extended to Lake Baikal and raised its level by 1.4 meters. Thus, on the one hand, the valley of the Angara turned into a gulf of Baikal, and on the other hand, the greatest lake became the main regulating part of the Irkutsk water storage basin.
The full zone of the Angarsk part of the water storage basin equals 2.5 km3, conservation zone equaled 0.45 km3; it carries out daily regulation of drain, whereas conservation zone of the Baikal site is much greater: 46.4 km3 (99 % from the total amount) and allows to provide deep long-term yearly regulation of drain and uniformity of work not only of Irkutsk Hydroelectric Power Station, but also of the whole cascade of Angarsk power stations.
In 1958 builders put into operation the last two units ahead of schedule, and the Irkutsk Hydroelectric Power Station began its full designed capacity work.
On October 24, 1959, the State Commission headed by M.N. Markelov, Chairman of Eastern-Siberian Council of National Economy, accepted Irkutsk Hydroelectric Power Station for constant operation.
The decree of Presidium of the Supreme Council of the USSR as of January 11, 1960, Head of construction A.E. Bochkin, fitter A.A. Kuznetsov, shovel operator V.A. Salomatov were awarded the title of the hero of the socialist labor for introduction of new progressive methods of work and outstanding success in construction of Irkutsk Hydroelectric Power Station. 349 workers, engineers, and other technical employees were awarded the medals. According to the decision of the Regional Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, 140 surnames of leaders of manufacture were placed on the memorial board on the building of the Hydroelectric Power Station.
The whole generation of power and hydraulic builders was formed in the process of construction of the Hydroelectric Power Station. Later, they took part in erection of such giants of the industry as Bratsk, Ust-Ilimsk, Krasnoyarsk Hydroelectric Power Stations, KAMAZ, etc. Experts successfully worked in Mongolia, Vietnam, Iran, and Syria. Everywhere their work was highly evaluated.