NEWBURYPORT -- Many in the city complained today of an odd smell that lingered over a significant portion of Newburyport, and a probe by city officials discovered the unusual cause.
The smell -- variously described as a burning, garbage-like stench -- was caused by powerwashing of a boat at a local marina, according to Bob Bracey, director of health services. Bracey said the health department issued an order to the marina to neutralize the smell and comply with environmental protection laws. The city considered the incident to be a public nuisance.
Many boats are being removed from the water this week, as boaters prepare for Hurricane Sandy. Boats typically accumulate a variety of growths on their hulls -- such as barnacles and seaweed -- that must be removed before the boat goes into winter storage.
Bracey said the health department, harbormaster and sewer department will work together to routinely inspect the city's marinas to ensure that they are following environmental regulations when powerwashing boats. The city will work with the local marinas to help them be in compliance, he said.
The smell fueled much speculation this morning. Some believed that a whale carcass was floating in the river and caused the stench.