Friday, October 14, 2016

Siberian River Turns Red As Blood

To anyone who was new to the area of Norilsk industrial city in Siberia on Tuesday September 6, they would have looked at the nearby Daldykan River and wondered how Pharaoh and the rest of Egypt must have felt when Moses unleashed the first plague on the Nile and turned its water into blood; because that is exactly what the river seemed to have become that day, turning a shade of red so bright that satellite images made it look like a blood vessel being x-rayed.

TIME reports that the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment suspect that the large-scale discoloration of the Daldykan was caused by a discharge of chemicals from the Nadezhda Metallurgical Plant, caused by a leaky pipeline along the river. The plant, which processes nickel concentrate, is owned and operated by Norilsk Nickel, the world’s largest producer of the metal.

The company has denied that the chemical discharge came from their plant, but stated that they have begun conducting their own investigation and monitoring of the local environmental situation through helicopter reconnaissance. They have also ordered the Nadezhda Plant to cut down its production for the duration of the tests, and provided file photographs of the river with its normal coloration.

More on the story, older residents of Norilsk have told The Siberian Times that this was actually not the first time that the Daldykan turned red. If there was any consolation on this strange phenomenon, it was that the river is not part of the public water supply. It still doesn’t quite change the reality that the Norilsk area, which is the site of the largest heavy metal smelting complex on Earth, has been branded the worst polluted area in Russia. It is also the northernmost city in Siberia, situated in the permafrost zone where temperatures can fall to 45° Fahrenheit below zero. Its mining industry was drawn to the area by the large amounts of minerals like copper, nickel and palladium, which has contributed to the heavy pollution Norilsk is known for.

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