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Instagrammers Love This Turquoise 'Lake,' But It's Actually a Toxic Waste Dump

You don't have to look hard to see how influencer culture can be toxic, considering the all-consuming obsession it drives to cultivate an elevated version of reality for the 'gram...

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You don't have to look hard to see how influencer culture can be toxic, considering the all-consuming obsession it drives to cultivate an elevated version of reality for the 'gram. If you need one, though, look no further than this gorgeous turquoise "lake" in Russia that has become a wildly popular place for folks in search of the ideal Instagram backdrop, despite the fact that it's quite literally a toxic wasteland. 

The shockingly blue patch of water outside the Novosibirsk -- the largest city in Siberia -- has become a hugely popular site for visitors hoping to get a taste of paradise during the summers in the famously frigid region. There are countless photos of bikini-clad women and newlyweds posing on its banks and others showing people paddle-boarding and lounging in pool floats on the water. It's even jokingly earned the nickname of the "Maldives of Novosibirsk" and has its own dedicated Instagram account.

The only problem? The seemingly tropical "lake" is, in reality, a man-made waste site filled with runoff chemicals from a nearby power plant. And its turquoise hue is less a natural occurring phenomenon than the effect of its massive calcium salt and metal oxide deposits. But, hey, anything for the 'gram, right?

The site has become such a popular Insta backdrop that the electrical company that runs the power plant -- Heating and Electrical Station Number 5 -- issued a warning, pleading with people to not touch the water. They insist the water is not poisonous, but they'd really, really prefer no one go in it, as its high pH from the coal ash being pumped into it can cause allergic reactions, according to a report by The New York Times

“We strongly ask that while hunting for selfies you don’t fall in the ash dump!” reads the warning. Beyond that, the company also warned that it's "almost impossible” to get unstuck from the dumping site's muddy bottom. That still hasn't stopped at least a few folks from dipping their toes in. 

Of course, considering the truly idiotic and dangerous things people are willing to do to snap the perfect shot, it's tough to imagine even a dire warning like that is going to stop anyone on the hunt for some fresh feed fodder. 

h/tThe New York Times

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Joe McGauley is a senior writer for Thrillist. Follow him @jwmcgauley.