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OLDSMAR, Fla. – An observant – and quick-thinking – plant operator thwarted the attempted remote poisoning of a Florida city’s water supply Friday, launching a full-scale hunt for the person or persons responsible.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri confirmed during a Monday news conference that a hacker gained access to Oldsmar’s water treatment plant and remotely increased the sodium hydroxide to a “dangerous” level, WTSP reported.

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Sodium hydroxide, also called lye, is used to treat water acidity, but the compound can also be found in common cleaning supplies such as soaps and drain cleaners. Larger quantities of the substance can cause irritation, burns and other complications, The Associated Press reported.

Gualtieri said during the news conference that his deputies, along with the FBI and U.S. Secret Service, are investigating the breach, but it remains unclear if the action originated within the United States or is the work of a foreign actor.

According to WTSP, the vigilant plant operator noticed that someone outside of the building had entered the computer system responsible for controlling chemical concentrations and other operations of the water treatment plant. The operator initially assumed a supervisor had accessed the software to troubleshoot an issue, but then the hacker entered the system again and adjusted the amount of sodium hydroxide in the water from 100 parts per million to 11,100 parts per million.

“This is obviously a significant and potentially dangerous increase. Sodium hydroxide, also known as lye, is the main ingredient in liquid drain cleaners,” Gualtieri said.

The operator immediately reduced the levels back to the appropriate amount, however, and Gualtieri stated that “at no time was there a significant adverse effect on the water being treated.”

“The important thing is to put everyone on notice, and I think that’s really the purpose of today is to make sure that everyone realizes that these bad actors are out there,” Oldsmar Mayor Eric Seidel said during the news conference.

Meanwhile, Oldsmar City Manager Al Braithwaite said that several fail-safes and alarm systems are in place to flag issues exactly like Friday’s intrusion and that the remote access program has been disabled while steps are taken to ensure a similar breach can never happen again.

The timing of the attack has also attracted the attention of cybercrime units within both the Secret Service and FBI because the incident occurred just two days before Super Bowl LV, which was played Sunday only about 30 miles from Oldsmar in Tampa Bay’s Raymond James Stadium, CBS News reported.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted Monday evening that the Oldsmar breach “should be treated as a matter of national security.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ingesting large amounts of sodium hydroxide can cause vomiting as well as chest and abdominal pain.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.