AUGUSTA — Maine’s chief medical examiner has determined that the two men whose bodies were pulled from a Kennebunkport sewage tank died from inhaling sewer gases.

Richard Kemp, 70, of Monmouth, and Winfield Studley, 58, of Windsor were working on a submersible pump in the pump storage tank at the Lodge at Turbats Creek. The tank’s floor is nine feet below the ground, and its dimensions are roughly 4 feet high by 5 feet wide by 6 feet long.

Their bodies were discovered shortly after 11 a.m. Autopsies performed today found they died from “hydrogen sulfide toxicity in a confined space with terminal inhalation of sewage.”

Hydrogen sulfide is a toxic gas given off by bacteria present in sewage. Its effects are sudden in high concentrations, causing an inability to breathe, unconsciousness and death.

The men were experienced workers who had installed and serviced sewer pumps across the state. Neither was wearing any special breathing apparatus when their bodies were recovered, officials said.

Officials are awaiting a report from a private contractor hired to inspect the tank to determine what may have happened.

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