Maegan Boutilier has fished the waters around Campbell River countless times with her husband over the five years or so.
In that time, she has seen many cruise ships passing by, but around 8 p.m. on June 14 they were off the south tip of Quadra Island when she saw something new – a cruise ship spraying some kind of fluid into the waters she estimates was within four miles of the shore.
“It was pretty close to the shore,” she said. “The weird thing is I’ve never seen this before.”
She took a couple of photos of the ship, Royal Caribbean Cruises’ Radiance of the Seas, with her phone’s camera when she was still at some distance and regrets not getting a better picture but admits to being a little distracted both by the cruise ship and her catch of the day.
“I had just caught my first halibut and was super-excited,” she said.
After she snapped a couple of photos, they got closer and were pretty certain the ship was spraying something for a period of at least 15 minutes as evening approached.
“It was spraying whatever it was for a long time,” she said. “It was like a waterfall.”
Boutilier wondered if it was chlorinated water from the pools.
“They go by all the time…. I’ve never seen anybody spraying water,” she said. “What was it they were putting into our waters?”
She posted her observation on a Facebook page to see if anyone else saw it. Another person also said she had seen the ship appear to spray something, and a social media discussion took off, with people speculating as to whether it was normal bilge or something else.
Transport Canada clarified the pollution prevention guidelines for cruise ships about what can be discharged at sea. These cover a range of fluids, including photo developer, dry cleaning fluid, pharmaecuticals, bilge and oily water residues. Greywater discharge in Canadian waters outside the Arctic is passed through a marine sanitation device or is discharged at least three nautical miles away from shore.
With sewage, the regulations outline treatment and say that outside of designated sewage discharge areas, “comminuted and disinfected” sewage may be discharged outside of three nautical miles, and outside of 12 nautical miles for untreated sewage.
In response, Royal Caribbean Cruises said the Radiance of the Seas was in the area late in the evening, but it was not undertaking any deck-washing or other discharges.
“Our environmental team confirmed with Transport Canada that there were no discharges taking place when the ship was near the area,” corporate communications manager Owen Torres told the Mirror by email.