Environment Ministry inspectors yesterday visited dozens of industries in Piraeus and southwestern Athens after receiving a flood of complaints from local residents who woke to a mysterious, noisome smell that, combined with strong heat and smog, produced stifling conditions. But officials were unable to trace the source of the stench, which, according to a ministry announcement, was strongest between 3 and 6 a.m. and persisted into the afternoon when it was blown away by a rising wind. Residents in Piraeus, Perama, Keratsini, Nea Smyrni, Haidari and Aegaleo – where the stink was worst – likened the smell to petroleum fumes, burning plastic or tires, or chlorine. The stench reached as far as Vathis Square in central Athens. «Ministry officials carried out patrols and inspections at industrial installations in the areas where the problem was most intense… but none of the local industries were found to be responsible for the smell,» a ministry statement said. Hellenic Petroleum, which operates a refinery at Aspropyrgos, on the city’s western outskirts, issued a statement denying any link to the stench.