Local parties team up to protect riverLast week, local officials from Archer Daniels Midland, Canadian Pacific Rail, Wilson Oil, Xcel Energy and the city of Red Wing took a ride up and down the Mississippi River on a local tour boat.
By: Jon Swedien, The Republican Eagle
Last week, local officials from Archer Daniels Midland, Canadian Pacific Rail, Wilson Oil, Xcel Energy and the city of Red Wing took a ride up and down the Mississippi River on a local tour boat.
It was more than a pleasure cruise, however.
The companies and the city are working to form an emergency response group that would organize strategies for responding to oil spills, train derailments and other emergencies that would pose threats to the river.
During the cruise, officials snapped pictures of storm drains and back channels and discussed where they could launch boats and emergency cleanup operations.
"It's just a good thing," said Matt Stokes, a private consultant working with the group.
"You don't want to be thinking about this stuff at 3 o' clock in the morning when something is happening," Stokes said.
Although the idea to have an organization that would address emergency responses surfaced several years ago, the notion has picked up steam in recent months and the group has been discussing ways to create it.
In many ways the group is looking to Wakota CAER -- a well organized non-profit that develops strategies designed to mitigate disasters in Washington and Dakota counties -- as a model for the potential organization.
Stokes said the main benefit of an organization like CAER is having people with knowledge of the river and local infrastructure working together to create emergency plans. That way, if there is an incident, the responsible parties can move quickly.
"It just turns it into a no-brainer, so you're not thinking it up at the time," said Stokes, who added an oil spill or another emergency could cost the responsible company millions of dollars and the faster it remedied the situation the less its liability would be.
Capt. Rusty Mathiasmeier allowed the officials and media to ride his Sight-Sea-ER II tour boat for free.