WASHINGTON, Nov. 15 (UPI) -- Tens of thousands of railroad tank cars that carry flammable liquids should be phased out or retrofitted, a major rail industry group has recommended.
The Association of American Railroads also pressed for higher federal safety standards for new tank cars in a statement released Thursday.
The group asked for the changes in comments to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
The upgrades "will substantially decrease" the possibility of a spill if the car is involved in an accident, the statement said.
AAR estimated that of the approximately 92,000 tank cars in use, some 78,000 required phase out or retrofitting. Under their proposal, the organization said another 14,000 newer tank cars that meet current safety standards also would need retrofitting.
The AAR proposes new tank cars be built with a steel jacket surrounding the car, thermal protection, shields at the front and back and pressure relief vales with high-flow capacity.
Any cars not retrofitted should be "aggressively" phased out, AAR said.
The organization also recommended that rail shippers no longer be allowed the option of classifying as a combustible liquid any flammable liquids with a flash point between 100 and 140 degrees.
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration had asked for comments on improving the safety of tank cars after an unattended train with 72 tank cars rolled down a hill and exploded in the Canadian town of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, in July, killing at least 42 people, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The production of crude oil is up 41 percent in the United States, but with an inadequate number of pipelines to carry the oil, more of it is being transported by rail. Trains can pull up to 100 tank cars, each of which can hold about 30,000 gallons of crude.