Workers’ deaths attributed to sewer gas inhalation

Posted Sept. 28, 2011, at 8:16 p.m.
Last modified Sept. 28, 2011, at 9:06 p.m.

KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine — Two men whose bodies were found Tuesday in a motel sewage tank died from inhaling sewer gases, according to Maine’s chief medical examiner.

Autopsies performed Wednesday found the two pump-repair workers died from, “hydrogen sulfide toxicity in a confined space with terminal inhalation of sewage,” according to the Kennebec Journal. Exposure to high levels of the gas can cause unconsciousness and death within just a few breaths.

Winfield Studley, 58, of Windsor and Richard Kemp, 70 of Monmouth were found floating in the tank shortly after 11 a.m. at The Lodge at Turbat’s Creek, Kennebunkport Police Chief Craig Sanford said.

The men were employees of Stevens Electric & Pump Service, a Monmouth company that was doing work at the motel. The two were experienced workers, and were working on a submersible pump in the pump storage tank, officials said.

A private contractor has been hired to inspect the tank to figure out what may have happened.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.