But despite warnings that the artificial pond contains dangerous calcium salts and other metal oxides, it has remained a popular site for selfies, wedding parties and scantily clad photoshoots.
A Russian energy company has warned Instagram users not to swim in a mesmerising turquoise lake nicknamed the “Siberian Maldives” because it is actually an ash dump filled with harmful metal oxides.
“In the last week, our ash dump has become a celebrity on social networks,” the Siberian Generating Company said last month, warning potential visitors not to drink the water and saying that even “skin contact with the water can lead to an allergic reaction”.
Photographs of women in bikinis lying on the ash dump’s dirt banks and of visitors riding inflatable unicorns on the azure waters have gone viral on social networks.
Some users joked about the taste of the water as “chalky” or “sweet,” though it was not clear if they were being serious. One photographer quoted in the Siberian Times described the water as smelling of “laundry detergent”. The water’s pH is higher than 8, the company said.
The dump is man-made and contains the ash that results from burning coal at the nearby thermal power station, which provides energy to the city of Novosibirsk. It was built in the 1970s and is the largest of its kind in Siberia.
Swimmers may not be able to escape the dangerous waters, the company warned. The bottom of the ash dump is muddy, meaning that “getting out of the reservoir without help is practically impossible”.
After an explosion of interest on social media, the company said it had been forced to warn potential visitors that “walking along the ash dump is like walking on a military firing range: dangerous and undesirable.
“SO WE VERY MUCH ASK THAT THOSE CHASING SELFIES NOT FALL INTO THE ASH DUMP!” continued the energy company’s statement. “THIS IS THE GREATEST RISK.”
Unfortunately, the warnings seem only to have attracted more visitors and even a fan account called Novosibirsk Maldives that has collected nearly 200 posts from the ash dump’s beguiling waters.
One post suggested that so many tourists had begun visiting the site that local thieves had started breaking into cars while visitors took photographs.
Another wrote that the power station’s management had begun closing roads to the ash dump because of the “big flow of people from Novosibirsk” to the site.
A woman posing in a wedding dress with her husband by the lake wrote: “There is no limit to my happiness. How long have I wanted such a tender, sensual, memorable #lovestory. And it came true.”