BILLINGS, Mont. – U.S. safety officials say tank cars carrying oil or ethanol by rail urgently need to be retrofitted to make them more fire-resistant after a spate of explosive accidents in recent months.
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The National Transportation Safety Board issued a series of recommendations Monday calling for tank cars to be fitted with protective systems better able to withstand fire than the bare steel construction now widely in use.
The board also said a decade-long retrofit timeline suggested by the tank car industry was too long to wait.
The industry in 2011 voluntarily adopted rules requiring sturdier tank cars for hauling flammable liquids such as oil and ethanol. But cars built to the new standard split open in at least four accidents during the past year.