BAR HARBOR, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --- Officials with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection say they were unable to prove whether or not a cruise ship discharged its waste while at the town pier last month, but they do say that tests indicated there was indeed waste in the water.
D.E.P. officials say there was definitely a presence of sewage in the water not long after the cruise ship "Independence" docked in Bar Harbor on July 19. A number of witnesses, including the town harbor mater, say they saw a tannish plume coming from the ship, which went on to fill an entire slip at the dock. A test conducted hours later by the Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory later showed that the water affected by the plume had an elevated level of the bacteria "enterococcus."
The D.E.P. says while the ship appears to be the only apparent source of the plume, the department can not be 100 percent certain. Authorities say this is partially because the D.E.P. is not allowed to board ships to check the necessary valves.
American Cruise Lines, which owns the "Independence," has maintained that the ship did not discharge sewage while at the dock. The captain of the ship told NEWS CENTER that his crew might have discharged "grey water" while the "Independence" was at the down dock, but he added that type of waste could not have produced the size or odor of the plume reported by witnesses.
"Grey water" comes from sinks and showers onboard a vessel and investigators with the D.E.P. say it could not have raised the bacteria level of the water to the extent it was on July 19.
The case will be referred to the Environmental Protection Agency and the coast guard. Officials with American Cruise Lines could not be reached for comment on Monday.