BRADENTON, FL -- Congressman Vern Buchanan issued the following statement today after he conducted an aerial inspection of the affected area and was briefed on the Piney Point crisis.

"After flying over the area threatened by the leak of contaminated wastewater at Piney Point, it's clear that a breach of the reservoir would have catastrophic consequences. The path of floodwaters resulting from a rupture would affect homes, businesses, farmland, Tampa Bay and Bishop Harbor."

“Immediately following my aerial inspection, I was told by Manatee County officials that while the situation has improved from 48 hours ago when the threat of a breach was imminent, we are not out of the woods yet. In fact a second leak was discovered in the reservoir.

“Gov. DeSantis and the state Department of Environmental Protection deserve credit for their swift and forceful response. Their decision to deploy manpower and equipment to rapidly drain the reservoir is reducing the volume of wastewater by 23,500 gallons a minute.

“Nonetheless, I have personally asked the federal EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) to step in and assist Florida. They responded to my request and sent boots on the ground to help and said there is now a “unified command” structure in place. This is an all hands on deck emergency.

“It's also clear that if once we contain this threat, we need to turn to a longer-term solution so that Manatee County never has to experience a crisis like this again. That means holding the private company that owns the property, HRK Holdings, accountable and responsible for damage and cleanup efforts. It is unconscionable that this company has owned this property for 15 years and done nothing to minimize the threat to the public.”