Some 80,000 tank cars that don't meet current industry safety standards need to be replaced or retrofitted after several crashes involving trains carrying crude oil, the head of railcar maker The Greenbriar Co. said Wednesday.
CEO William Furman added that "modest but meaningful'' improvements that can be implemented immediately could reduce major risks of a hazardous materials leak in derailments by as much as 80 percent.
"We believe a retrofit proposal, if adopted, can be completed in a reasonably expedited time frame and do not accept that there is not adequate capacity in the industry to do so,'' Furman said during Greenbriar's quarterly earnings conference call with analysts.
"The concern for public safety here is delay ... through the inability to act on the regulatory front while the public would like to see something done sooner.''
The Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) is weighing new rules based on petitions from the railroad industry, shippers and recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board.
Furman's comments came after a Canadian National Railway train carrying crude and propane derailed and caught fire late Tuesday in New Brunswick, Canada.
In North Dakota last week a 106-car BNSF Railway crude-oil train crashed into a derailed car carrying grain, causing multiple explosions and fires.
(Read more: Train collision forces N. Dakota town evacuation)
No one was hurt in either incident, the latest in a number of accidents involving crude-carrying trains in North America. They highlight safety issues as the oil-by-rail movement grows in tandem with the U.S. inland oil production boom.
The worst accident by far happened last July in a small Quebec town, where a runaway train derailed and exploded, killing 47 people.