Council combats stench in Barcelona Forum

19th August 2008, Comments 0 comments

The Barcelona local council is getting the Environment Agency (EMA) to find solutions to the terrible smell in the Plaza del Forum.

19 August 2008

BARCELONA - It depends on the day and the direction in which the wind is blowing, but more often than not, the stench in the Plaza del Forum, in Barcelona, is undeniable.

Because underneath this building, which was constructed for the controversial Universal Forum of Cultures in 2004, lies the largest sewage plant in Catalonia, which processes the faecal matter of around 1.5 million people in the metropolitan area of Barcelona.

The local council has got the Environment Agency (EMA) on the case to find solutions to the problem. So far they have come up with two: check and restore the plant's filters, and have trucks load up with the doors of the plant firmly shut.

The story is nearly as old as the forum itself, which has never quite managed to get away from that odour - one that doesn't exactly encourage visitors to take a walk around the area.

"We've had to deal with the problem since the start, and we won't stop until we get rid of that bad smell," says Carles Cunill, the head of EMA.

"There are going to be new universities here, and it's an area that is growing."

Odours on the wind
Carles Martí, from the mayor's office, told EL PAÍS recently that "it is not an easy subject," particularly given that a number of international music groups, who come to the Forum each year to play at the Primavera Sound festival, have complained about the smell.

Nearby residents are also unhappy, with those located nearest to the park able to catch a whiff of the odours when the wind is blowing in a certain direction.

Managers at three of the biggest hotels in the area, however - the Princess, the Hilton and the AC Barcelona - are more worried about noisy music festivals at the Forum than the smell.

Santiago Hernández, the director of the Princess, says that the stench that comes from the drains in front of the hotel is much worse than that from the Forum.

A spokesman from AC Barcelona says that the customers at the hotel do not, in general, have anything to say about the smell.

"The noise problem is worse," he says. "You can't have doctors and vets here for conferences unable to sleep because of the loud music."

But there are some who doubt that it's the smell keeping people away from the Forum square.

"No one likes the Forum," says Raimundo, who works in the restrooms there. "Tourists come once, but then they don't come back once they've realised that they've made a mistake. Hardly any police patrol here, and there are often muggings."

The smell, it seems, is not enough to keep criminals away.

[El Pais / À P / I. P / Expatica]

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