Search the “ТЭЦ-5” location tag on Instagram, and you’ll be flooded with picturesque shots of bright blue water, couples taking their wedding photos, yoga poses and even a few people on paddle boards. But the “Maldives of Novosibirsk” isn’t a luxurious oasis — it’s actually a chemical waste dump in Russia.
As the New York Times reported, so many people have flocked to the man-made toxic waste site that the nearby power plant issued a warning to stay away. The Siberian Generating Company, which operates the Heating and Electrical Station Number 5 plant, released a statement cautioning people to avoid the social media “star.”
The “lake” is located near Novosibirsk, Siberia’s largest city with a population of around 1.6 million people. It’s become so popular that it has its own dedicated Instagram account to highlight its beauty.
While the plant’s operator said the water was “not poisonous” and has “normal” levels of radiation, the company emphasized that the water was not safe for swimming and said that getting out of the reservoir was “almost impossible” because it is so muddy.
According to the plant, the turquoise hue of the water isn’t a natural wonder — it’s the result of a high pH level, calcium salts and other metal oxides. Because of this, contact with skin can cause an allergic reaction.
According to the company, falling into the “ash dump” is the biggest risk in trying to get the perfect selfie. But several users can be seen swimming on floats and paddle boards at the site.
One of the more daring Instagram users posted a picture in the lake on a unicorn pool float. He said the next day his legs “turned slightly red and itched for about two days.”
Heating and Electrical Station Number 5 is not the only power plant to make headlines this week.
Ukraine is now hoping to further exploit the nuclear disaster site at Chernobyl as a tourist attraction. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy signed a decree on Wednesday, more than 30 years after the reactor exploded there, announcing plans to make the site and surrounding areas more tourist friendly.