Residents in the towns of Leninsk-Kuznetsky, Kiselyovsk, and Prokopyevsk in Siberia have shared the eerie sight of black snow blanketing their streets.
The horrifying scene appears to be coming from the pollution emitted by open coal pits in the Kuzbass Basin region, which is home to 2.6 million people who have a life expectancy three to four years below Russia’s national average. The shocking development pertaining to this event is that this has become something of a normal occurrence for the area.
"It's harder to find white snow than black snow during the winter," Ecodefense environmental group member Vladimir Slivyak said, per The Guardian. "There is a lot of coal dust in the air all the time. When snow falls, it just becomes visible. You can’t see it the rest of the year, but it is still there."
But that doesn't make their situation any better. "No cleansing systems, all the waste, dust and dirt, coal lay in the area," a resident told The Siberian Times. "Our children and us are breathing it. It's just a nightmare."
The Guardian recounts the heartbreaking account of officials in Mysky, a town in the region, for deliberately painting their snow white in an effort to give the children a sense of normalcy because black snow is far from ordinary.