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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis at a news conference in Melbourne, Florida. Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Saturday declared a state of emergency for Manatee County as officials warned the collapse of a gypsum stack at the Piney Point industrial site was "imminent."

The big picture: The old phosphate plant site, in operation from the 1960s until 2001, holds stacks of phosphogypsum, a byproduct of fertilizer production, and large pools of polluted water, Axios' Ben Montgomery, Selene San Felice reported. A leak was discovered in the 77-acre process water pond last week.

  • The facility was releasing wastewater into Piney Point Creek, which leads into Tampa Bay, according to government officials.

The latest: Manatee County Public Safety Department expanded the mandatory evacuation area around the breached reservoir on Saturday.

  • Manatee County Administrator Scott Hopes in an update Saturday said, "We're talking about the potential of about [480] million gallons, within a matter of seconds and minutes, leaving that retention pool and going around the surrounding area," per CNN.
  • Those ponds hold "waste that would be less conducive to life on land and...life in the sea," Hopes added, noting that the population density of the area was fortunately low.
  • "Pumping the entire pond would take 10 to 12 days," AP noted.
  • A public safety alert on Saturday told residents, "Evacuate the area NOW. Collapse of Piney Point Stack is imminent. Immediate evacuation of Chapman Road to Airport Road and US 41 to O’Neill Road. Leave area IMMEDIATELY," per the Miami Herald.
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

What they're saying: "Due to a possible breach of mixed saltwater from the south reservoir at the Piney Point facility, I have declared a State of Emergency for Manatee County to ensure resources are allocated for necessary response & recovery," DeSantis tweeted Saturday.

Go deeper: Tampa Bay stares down environmental disaster from Piney Point phosphate plant

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Tampa Bay stares down environmental disaster from Piney Point phosphate plant

Anna Maria Island, near the mouth of Tampa Bay. Photo: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

A worsening series of breaches in a 800-million-gallon holding pool at the Piney Point industrial site prompted Manatee County to evacuate residents within about a mile of the plant tonight.

  • The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office and the Florida Highway Patrol closed off roads in the evacuation zone around U.S. 41 in Palmetto, per the Bradenton Herald, and the Red Cross has been called in to assist.

Biden says he'll make Supreme Court pick by end of February

President Biden speaks on the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden on Thursday said he will announce the nominee for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer's replacement by the end of February.

Driving the news: Biden also affirmed that he will nominate a Black woman to replace Breyer, saying "it's long overdue."

Stephen Breyer formally announces retirement from Supreme Court

Photo: Andrew Harnik/AP

Justice Stephen Breyer on Thursday sent a letter to President Biden formally announcing his retirement from the Supreme Court.

State of play: Breyer said his retirement will take effect when the court "rises for the summer recess (typically late June or early July) assuming that by then my successor has been nominated and confirmed."

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