Russian officials are looking into a phenomenon that's been documented by a flurry of pictures on social media: one of the country's northernmost rivers turning a bloodlike bright red. CNN reports that the Daldykan River shifted to a rouge hue on Tuesday, and while some are saying the cause could be iron ore in the ground, Russia's environmental ministry says it's investigating the Norilsk Nickel factory located nearby, citing in a press release a possible "break in a Norilsk Nickel slurry pipe" that may have dumped a chemical into the water, the Guardian notes. A mining expert explains to the Verge that certain oxidation processes or those that use high heat—like ones that may be used in the nickel plant—can convert sulfide minerals into iron oxide, which can turn water red if they mix together. Residents in the area tell a local newspaper they've seen this happen before, though they're not elaborating.
Norilsk Nickel, which says it's the world's "largest producer of nickel and palladium," is trying to deflect the finger-pointing, though it says it will tamp down production during the probe. Upper management there may also need to call the eye doctor. "The color of the river today doesn't differ from its usual condition," the company told the RIA Novosti state news agency. The river doesn't hook up with the area's water supply, so locals shouldn't fret about immediate health hazards, Norilsk city managers tell Sputnik, via CNN, though the director of an environmental nonprofit says local farmers and herders could be at risk, especially if livestock drink the water or the water is used for irrigation. One resident who posted her images of the river on Instagram frets, "You get scared when you see this. And people are still gathering mushrooms and berries." (The same thing happened in China two years ago.)