An oil pipeline safety council created by Governor Brian Schweitzer after a major Exxon Mobil Corp. pipeline spill into the Yellowstone River holds its first meeting in Helena Wednesday.

The council over the next year will gauge threats posed by pipelines crossing Montana waterways and make recommendations for preventing spills.

The July 1 Exxon Mobil pipeline break poured tens of thousands of gallons of crude into the Yellowstone near Laurel.

A second spill was discovered July 12 on an oil field operated by FX Energy Inc. on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. That spill had gone unreported for nearly a month and ran down a coulee to pollute Cut Bank Creek.

The council includes the directors of Montana departments of Environmental Quality, Transportation, and Natural Resources and Conservation.

Associated Press