DARTMOUTH, N.S. — One of the world's most elegant cruise ships, the Queen Elizabeth 2, is being investigated for polluting the waters off Cape Breton.
Transport Canada confirmed Monday that the ship issued a pollution report to the Canadian Coast Guard on Sept. 9, 2005, the day after it dumped 3,000 litres of what the crew described as ``paper pulp" in Canadian waters.
"We're basically investigating to determine whether there were any infractions of the Canada Shipping Act," said Steve Bone, a Transport Canada spokesman based in Dartmouth.
"Should there be sufficient evidence and if warranted, we'll prosecute. There are fines."
Bone said it remains unclear what was dumped, but there has been speculation it was primarily toilet paper.
The Queen Elizabeth 2, described as a "floating palace" on its website, is operated by Cunard, a subsidiary of Miami-based Carnival Corp.
Calls to Cunard's offices in the U.K. and the United States were not immediately returned.
Clark Wiseman, an Environment Canada enforcement officer, said the mysterious discharge shouldn't alarm Nova Scotians.
"If the material is nothing more chemically complex than paper, then that puts it way down the list," he said. "It's certainly not on the same level as oil, or gasoline or a variety chemicals in industrial use."
Federal officials have up to three years to investigate and plan to interview the crew when the vessel returns to a Canadian port.
The ship is scheduled to arrive in Halifax on Sept. 23. during a cruise to New England.
According to a federal government website, two vessels were fined $3,000 apiece between September 2004 and March 2005 for "the illegal discharge of garbage" in New Brunswick waters. The type and quantity of garbage dumped wasn't listed.