In 1971, aviation fuel poured into the Mississippi River from the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Airport responders enlisted the aid of downriver industries, and the first river response cooperative was born.
The “Miss-ota Croix Cooperative” shared ideas about oil spill preparedness and stocked spill response equipment in a trailer near the river. As time passed without any more huge spills, the group eventually dissipated.
In 2001, Wakota CAER formed a sub-committee to resurrect the old Miss-ota Croix cooperative for the portion of the Mississippi River that flows from St. Paul Lock and Dam One to Hastings Lock and Dam Two.
Wakota CAER recognizes most companies that store or transport oil or hazardous materials are prepared to respond to a potential spill. However, no one facility is equipped to manage a catastrophic oil spill on its own that reaches the river.
To prepare for potential river spills, some of our members banded together to form the Mississippi River Spill Response Cooperative (RSRC). The cooperative facilitates mutual aid assistance between members during response to oil spills on the Mississippi River, Minnesota River, and St. Croix River in the Twin Cities Metro Area. Pooling resources makes response to spilled oil quicker and more effective than otherwise possible.
“Companies have talked for years about the almost impossible challenge of maintaining preparedness for major oil spills. An obvious, though very difficult, solution is working together and sharing equipment, staff, and training.”
— Steve Lee, Supervisor of Emergency Response at Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
Requesting Mutual Aid: How to Get Help
Participating organizations can request mutual aid assistance from other participating organizations by contacting the State Duty Officer (SDO) 1-800-422-0798.
The SDO will notify the appropriate organizations with information about the release. Partner organizations in the cooperative have agreed to assist to the extent that they are able.
The requesting organization must provide the SDO with the following information:
- Location and contact information for the person and/or company responsible for the release
- A contact name and phone number for the requesting organization
- The nature of the incident, material released, volume, etc., for which they are requesting assistance
- The location of the release and probable location(s) where resources are needed
- The resources that are being requested
MN State Duty Officer Actions
- Inform the requesting organization about the notifications the SDO is required to make
- Notify the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency MPCA, other state and federal agencies as required
- Link the requesting organization with the MPCA On-Call staff
- Provide the MPCA On-Call staff with the contact information for the RSRC participating organizations below as requested
You Are Not Alone
The identification of at-risk resources is an ongoing process. Experts spend countless hours “ground truthing” access points and natural resources for the best placement of equipment. During that process representatives from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFW), U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, industry, for-hire spill cleanup companies and others volunteered time and equipment to survey the Mississippi, St. Croix and Minnesota River systems within the Twin Cities.
The group also used information developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to help decide where to best place boom response equipment. An organization called the Upper Mississippi Basin River Association helps coordinate spill response strategies for the Mississippi River.
Joining the RSRC
To become a member of the Mississippi River Spill Response Cooperative, you must first join Wakota CAER. Those interested in joining Wakota CAER and participating in the cooperative should contact Wakota CAER by visiting our Membership Page or contacting us at