The age of social media can be truly surreal at times. It makes people do strange things, like travel to a toxic wasteland to take picturesque photos for Instagram.
Instagram influencers are obsessed with a lake nicknamed the “Novosibirsk Maldives” in Siberia. The water in the lake is bright turquoise, and it makes for a great selfie background.
The lake is not a miracle of nature, though. It’s not a lake at all, really. It’s a toxic waste dump, full of runoff chemicals from a nearby power plant.
“You CANNOT swim in the ash dump. Its water has high alkaline environment. This is due to the fact that calcium salts and other metal oxides are dissolved in it,” the Siberian Generating Company, which runs the power plant, wrote on social media, per CNN.
Even touching the water can cause an allergic reaction. The company’s statement insisted that people avoid falling into the ash dump while taking selfies next to it. In addition to the toxic chemicals, the muddy bottom can trap people’s feet and make it almost impossible to get out.
And yet! Photographers, models, and influencers continue to go to the lake for photos.
Most people are careful not to touch or swim in the water, at least. They pose next to it, in bikinis or fully clothed.
One local in Siberia adventurously rode a unicorn floatie in the dump; the next morning, his legs were red and itchy.
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