Russian authorities are trying to determine the cause of the ominous change to the Daldykan River, located above the Arctic Circle and flowing through the mining town of Norilsk. Photos posted on Facebook by the Association of the Indigenous Peoples of the Taimir Peninsula clearly show the river has turned a vivid red.
As National Geographic reported, two major theories are emerging to explain the change. “The first is that the red color comes from the large quantity of iron that occurs naturally in the ground in that region,” National Geographic said. “The second is a chemical leak.”
Russia’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment said in a statement that it suspects the latter explanation: “According to our initial information, a possible reason for the pollution of the river might be a break in the pipeline” belonging to a local factory, which is owned by the nickel and palladium giant Norilsk Nickel.
The ministry did not specify what kind of chemical may be leaking into the river. According to the BBC, the government daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta suggested that the pipeline could be leaking waste copper-nickel concentrate.
Despite the numerous social media posts and the government statement confirming the red color, Norilsk Nickel maintains everything is normal with the river. “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. It included photos such as this one, which it said were taken yesterday morning:
The company added that it has “strengthened the environmental monitoring in the area of the river and adjacent production facilities” and would test samples from the river this week.
This isn’t the first time the river has changed color, according …