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.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 19.10.2019 09:00:49 (updated on 19.10.2019) Reading time: 3 minutes

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.

“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)

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.

odor map
Map of 50 recent reports of odors. via

Residents in the affected areas have created an online form on the site 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 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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