From Iceland — Bathers Warned Against Swimming In Power Plant Waste Hot Pools

Bathers Warned Against Swimming In Power Plant Waste Hot Pools

Published May 5, 2020

Poppy Askham
Photo by
Selma Lára Árnadóttir

An electricity firm has warned that a newly popular swimming spot in Reykjanes is in fact a potentially harmful offshoot from its power plant.

Several hot pools on the Reykjanes coastline have become a popular attraction for locals, despite private property warnings. With public swimming pools closed due to COVID-19, many bathers flocked to the area this weekend to enjoy the warm waters. But contrary to several social media posts’ claims, these hot pools are not natural. Bathers have inadvertently been swimming in the waste product from the nearby HS Orka geothermal power station.

Waters are usually a pleasant 35° Celsius, but if conditions in the power plant change they could suddenly rise to 100° Celsius, according to an HS Orka statement. Such temperatures could cause serious burns and have “disastrous” consequences for swimmers. The company also warns that there are very strong ocean currents near the pools and that it would be easy for a swimmer to be carried out to sea with little hope of rescue.

Photo by Ulrich Latzenhofer / Creative Commons

The power company stresses that swimming was always prohibited in the area and that there are two signs warning bathers of the risks. However, in the light of the pools’ recent popularity with swimmers, the company has stated that it will increase signage in the area to ensure visitors are aware of the risks.

Interestingly, the Blue Lagoon is created in a similar fashion—it is a manmade lake fed by water vented from the turbines of the Svartsengi geothermal plant. The difference in this case is that areas with dangerously hot water have been safely cordoned from the general public at the Blue Lagoon. The Blue Lagoon is also landlocked, so there is no danger of being swept out to sea there.

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