photo source: The Association of the Indigenous Peoples of the Taimir Peninsula’s Facebook / ABC News

Russian authorities are trying to determine the cause of the unpleasant change to the Daldykan River, a Siberian river that has suddenly and mysteriously turned blood red on 7 September.

Photos are shared on social media, and the Association of the Indigenous Peoples of the Taimir Peninsula’s Facebook show clearly that the river has turned a vivid red.

There is no official scientific report identifying a reason for the change, but the National Geographic reported, two major theories can be used to explain the change:

  • The first is that the red color comes out of the large quantity of iron that occurs naturally in the ground in that region,
  • The second it is caused by a chemical leak.

Russia’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment made a statement that it suspects the chemical leak. “According to our initial information, a possible reason for the pollution of the river might be a break in the pipeline” which belongs to a local factory, owned by the nickel and palladium giant Norilsk Nickel.

Norilsk Nickel, which also owns many other factories in the area, denied that there are any leaks in its facilities, but said they are doing environmental checks just in case.

Norilsk Nickel released photos of the river saying it were taken Wednesday (7 September) and claiming it is in normal condition; but it was unconfirmed if the photo is of the same area or not.

photo: Norilsk Nickel
photo: Norilsk Nickel

“The waters show the natural tone; the river and its mainstream are in regular condition, which goes against the information about any color changes due to an alleged case of large-scale river pollution,” Norilsk Nickel said in a statement.

And Atlas Obscura reported, in a statement made to National Geographic, the company said they cannot admit that any leaks are impacting the state of the river, but they are strengthening the environmental monitoring around the river and corporate production sites.

Norilsk Nickel has also decreased the ongoing output of the factory close to the river to be cautious.

However, locals around the area are not surprised; they said the river had turned red before, the residents do not drink the water.

Located above the Arctic Circle and flows through the mining town of Norilsk, the river again has changed from its usual blue-green color to bright red over the last couple of days.

photo: Atlasobscura / NASA PublicDomain
photo: Atlasobscura / NASA PublicDomain

In 2000, NPR’s Michele Kelemen reported from Norilsk that the area has a tragic history.

She wrote, “Norilsk began as part of the gulag archipelago. Stalin sent prisoners there to extract the mineral wealth of Russia’s frozen north.”

“Workers lived in desolate, brutal prison camps. Only after 1956 did Soviets begin to go to Norilsk voluntarily to take high-paying mining jobs.”

“As far as the eye can see there are cranes, polluting smokestacks from the smelters and rusty pipes winding through the trashed landscape of this Arctic city,” she described how it looked during her visit.


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