Pipeline is feared to have broken in Arctic city of Norilsk, where Daldykan river runs close to nickel-producing factory
Russian authorities have ordered an investigation into a possible pipeline break after a river in the nickel-producing Arctic city of Norilsk turned bright red.
Social media users began sharing photos of the unnaturally red Daldykan river on Tuesday, with some writing that it had also changed colour in June.
A few users suggested iron ore in the ground had changed the river’s colour, but others said industrial waste was a more likely reason. The river runs near to the Nadezhda metallurgical factory run by Norilsk Nickel, the world’s largest producer of nickel and palladium.
Russia’s natural resources and environment ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that it was investigating complaints of unknown chemical pollution, possibly caused by a “break in a Norilsk Nickel slurry pipe”.
According to Denis Koshevoi, a PhD candidate at the Vernadsky Institute for Geochemistry and Analytical Chemistry, who is researching pollution in the area, Norilsk Nickel pumps chemical solutions from Nadezhda to a nearby tailings dam via pipes. It also pumps metal concentrates from ore mills to Nadezhda, he said.
“Periodically there are accidents when these pipes break and the solutions spill and get into the Daldykan – that’s why it changes colour,” Koshevoi told the Guardian.
Another commenter quoted the Bible passage in which the Lord tells Moses and Aaron to “strike the water of the Nile, and it will be changed into blood”.