Update: Did Cruise Ship Dump Sewage into Bar Harbor?

August 11, 2010
American-Cruise-Lines-Independence-Cruise-Ship Update, 12 p.m. EDT: Pam Parker of Maine's Department of Environmental Protection (D.E.P.) told Cruise Critic this morning that according to the D.E.P.'s investigation, the discharge was indeed sewage (based on the bacteria levels in the water) and that the only possible source was the cruise ship Independence. The plume of tannish, smelly water that was seen appeared to come from the side of the ship where discharge is typically released.

However, American Cruise Lines claims the discharge did not come from its ship, and D.E.P. officials did not board Independence at the time to check the systems, so the D.E.P.'s report must remain inconclusive. As American Cruise Lines "has always been a good environmental player," says Parker, and the ship is brand new, it's possible that an accident occurred and went unnoticed by the crew, but no one can know for sure. The good news is that the sewage in the water will not create any lasting environmental damage.

(August 10, 5:50 p.m. EDT) -- Investigations by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (D.E.P.) into whether or not American Cruise Lines' Independence dumped sewage or gray water into Bar Harbor last month have proven inconclusive, reports WCSH6.com. However, tests have shown that sewage was indeed present in the water.

Although we could not reach the D.E.P. at press time, the WCSH6 article reports the D.E.P. could not ascertain for certain whether the sewage in the water came from the cruise ship, as their officers could not board the ship to check. We did speak to Timothy Beebe, spokesman for American Cruise Line, who told us that as far as the cruise line is concerned, the ship did not spill anything into the water nor do company officials know what contaminated the water. The cruise line is complying with the D.E.P.'s investigation.

The case will now go to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Coast Guard.

Wondering how ships generally deal with waste water? Here's a rundown of onboard policies for the major cruise lines.

--by Erica Silverstein, Senior Editor

Photo courtesy of American Cruise Lines