Coal Plant’s Waste Pond Becomes Russian Social Media Sensation

The turquoise water of a small lake in Siberia looks like a tropical paradise, and it’s drawn in hundreds of Instagramers who have posed in and around the “Novosibirsk Maldives,” the New York Times writes.

But unlike similar natural attractions, it’s not white sands or microscopic plankton that give the water its unusual hue. The “lake” is actually a human-made ash dump, used to store toxic byproducts from a power plant’s burned coal, the report says.

“The water has a high alkaline environment,” wrote Siberian Generating Company (SGK)—a local power plant that dumps metal oxides like calcium salts into the lake—in statement posted on the Russia social network VKontakte on on Wednesday. “THEREFORE, WE ARE REQUESTING, DON’T GET INTO THE ASH DUMP TO TAKE A SELFIE!” the post reads.

SGK wrote the statement in response to the slew of Instagram photos taken at the lake in recent weeks where the company dumps the ash from coal burned at the plant. The area has been a popular photography spot for a while, but it has seen increased public attention over the last month. “Last week, our ash dump Novosibirsk TEZ-5 has become the star of social networks,” the statement opens.

The post claims the lake is not poisonous, as plants grow in its vicinity, but that skin contact with the water can cause an allergic reaction. SGK also warns that the bottom of the ash dump is muddy, making it “almost impossible” to get out of the lake.

Recently the human-made lake has become such a popular photo spot that Leo Alexey created an Instagram page exclusively for ash-dump selfies. Alexey told CNN he’s been to the lake a few times. “I go there every weekend but I don’t touch the water,” Alexy told CNN. “I just enjoy photography.”