Bathing in Industrial Waste

March 1, 2018



Valur Margeirsson suffered from Psoriasis, a long-lasting autoimmune disease characterised by patches of abnormal skin, red, itchy and scaly. He lived only forty minutes away from a relatively new geothermal power plant. The power plant, only five years old at the time, produced both electricity, for the national power grid and heat used to heat up freshwater for the neighbouring towns.

Ever since the power plant was taken to use a pool of bright blue water started to appear in the lava fields surrounding it. That blue water was waste coming from the power plant and because it was very rich in dissolved materials it clogged the lava and started to grow.

Valur who had been dealing with his decease from a young age decided one day, against his doctors recommendation who called it a “dirt puddle”, that he should take a bath in the blue warm water in hope that it would have positive affect on his symptoms.

Bathing in remote places in nature is a widely accepted thing to do in Iceland, and under most circumstances people wouldn’t give it a second thought. However Valur’s choice to take a bath in industrial waste, not the natural springs that are found all over the country, was an unusual one.

In 1981 Valur took his first dip in the blue water he called The Blue Lagoon (Bláa lónið). Since then more and more people have been bathing in the industrial waste of the power plant and the lagoon keeps getting bigger.

In 2016 The Blue Lagoon, owned by private investors, earned over 77 million euros. Over one million guests visited The Blue Lagoon that same year, two-hundred thousand more than the year before. Those guests payed on average 130 thousand euros in entrance fee a day. The Blue Lagoon as it is today was built in 2005 and won numerous Icelandic architecture and design awards as well as being nominated for the Mies van der Rohe award. In April of 2018 The Blue Lagoon will open a new hotel that will be of the highest quality found in Iceland.


Sindri Sigurðsson


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