Map of odors in Prague. via Martin Dejmal / Smradek.eu

Prague has an odor problem, and this new map charts the city’s smelliest districts

People in the western part of Prague have long complained about a suburban factory's emissions.

Odor from an animal feed factory has united mayors of five Prague districts, who are urging Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib (Pirates) to take some kind of action.

The firm Vafo in Chrášťany, Prague-West, is behind the foul smell, the mayors claim. A local group on the west side of Prague has even been tracking the odors and mapping them on a daily basis.

Inhabitants of Prague’s Zličín and Řepy neighborhoods say when the wind blows in their direction, they are faced with a stomach-turning smell from the Vafo factory, which belongs to wealthy entrepreneur Pavel Boušek.

The problem has been going on for years, and has not improved. People have demonstrated in front of the City Hall. Mayors of Prague 6, 13, 17, Prague-Zličín and Prague-Řeporyje have sent an open letter to Mayor Hřib calling for action.

They want to bring together authorities in the Central Bohemia with the Ministries of Environment and Health, so together thy can find a way to make Vafo to do something to stop the spread of the smell.

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“It is absolutely necessary to start solving the problem with the Vafo factory at the regional level. There have been many demonstrations, petitions, but to no avail. People in Bubeneč have complained about the plant for a long time,” Prague 6 Mayor Ondřej Kolář (TOP 09) said.

On Facebook, he said that people have been complaining for 13 years, and no action has been taken. “Will Mayor Hřib continue to let tens of thousands of citizens of his city breathe a horrible odor, or will he finally start to work for better times?” he asked.

Mayor Hřib said after a recent meeting with the governor of the Central Bohemia Governor Jaroslava Pokorná Jermanová (ANO) that Prague is waiting for the authorities to comment on the situation.

While for many the situation is unpleasant, others report health effects such as vomiting on certain days.

The civic association Praha pro život (Prague for Life) has approached Prague Deputy Mayor’s Petr Hlubuček (United Force for Prague) and the National Institute of Public Health (SZÚK) for help. The SZÚK has confirmed the presence of odors, and that they can be stressful for some people. But they have not taken any action.

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odor map
Map of 50 recent reports of odors. via Smradek.eu

Residents in the affected areas have created an online form on the site Smradek.eu to track the daily intensity of the smell. Maps tracking the 50 most recent posts shows that wind direction has a large influence on the spread of odor, as reports tend to cluster. The most recent map can be seen on the Smradek.eu website.

There is also a Facebook group dedicated to the odor called “Stop Smradu z granulí v Praze!”

Vafo counters that the situation is not nearly as bad as residents claim. “We have been operating in Chrášťany for exactly 25 years and we fully meet the limits set by Czech standards and laws. The values of the odor units are far below those at similar production in Germany, the Netherlands and other countries,” Vafo marketing director Martin Šámal said.

He claims Vafo is the only feed producer in Europe using two stages of cold plasma cleaning, and the entire air purification system removes approximately 92 percent of the odor traces. “That is our initiative and a voluntary investment worth 68 million CZK beyond our legal obligations,” he said, adding that the odors might come from other local sources.

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