A Russian river located by the Arctic town of Norilsk turned bright red this week, looking more like an enormous blood vessel than a body of water.
Stunned residents shared photos online of the bizarre scene at Daldykan River.
Authorities are trying to determine why the river changed colors and are evaluating possible environmental damages.
The water may have reddened due to discharge from “an unidentified chemical” from the nearby Nadezhda Metallurgical Plant, Russia’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment said in a statement Wednesday. If a pipeline broke, contaminants could have leaked into the river, the ministry added.
The plant is owned by Norilsk Nickel, the world’s largest nickel producer.
The company has so far denied assertions that the pollution was caused by discharge from its plant. Norilsk Nickel said it will continue to monitor the environmental situation in the area and reduce production at the plant while tests are being conducted, Russian state news agency RIA Novosti reported.
Residents told Krasnews, a local newspaper, that it’s not the first time that the Daldykan River has turned red, but did not provide further details.
The river isn’t connected to the public water supply and the incident doesn’t pose an immediate threat to the residents’ well-being, the Norlisk city administration told state news agency Sputnik.
As the northernmost city in Siberia, Norilsk is a resource-rich area with frigid temperatures that can fall below minus 45 degrees Fahrenheit. The area is near the world’s largest deposits of nickel, copper and palladium. As a result, it attracts the mining industry.
Norilsk is known for its heavy pollution, which is often considered the worst in Russia.