Air­liner dumps fuel that lands on school chil­dren near Los An­ge­les

Antelope Valley Press - - OPINION - By STE­FANIE DAZIO

CU­DAHY — A mist of fuel dumped by an air­liner with an en­gine prob­lem as it made an emer­gency re­turn to Los An­ge­les In­ter­na­tional Air­port fell on sev­eral schools Tues­day, caus­ing mi­nor skin and lung ir­ri­ta­tion to 56 chil­dren and adults, of­fi­cials said.

The fuel sprayed out of the plane in two lines and the strong-smelling va­por de­scended at mid­day in the city of Cu­dahy and nearby parts of Los An­ge­les County, about 13 miles East of the air­port.

The va­por fell on five el­e­men­tary schools, but all in­juries were mi­nor and no one was taken to hos­pi­tals, Los An­ge­les County Fire Depart­ment In­spec­tor Sky Cor­nell said. It didn’t force any evac­u­a­tions.

“That’s a great sign,” Cor­nell said.

All the fuel evap­o­rated very quickly and noth­ing flammable re­mained in the air or on the ground, he said.

Peo­ple were treated with soap and wa­ter, Fire In­spec­tor Henry Nar­vaez said.

Shortly af­ter take­off, Delta Air Lines Flight 89 to Shang­hai “ex­pe­ri­enced an en­gine is­sue re­quir­ing the air­craft to re­turn quickly to LAX. The air­craft landed safely af­ter re­lease of fuel, which was re­quired as part of nor­mal pro­ce­dure to reach a safe land­ing weight,” the com­pany said in a state­ment. The air­line did not re­lease de­tails about the en­gine prob­lem.

The Fed­eral Aviation Ad­min­is­tra­tion said it is in­ves­ti­gat­ing.

“There are spe­cial fuel-dump­ing pro­ce­dures for air­craft op­er­at­ing into and out of any ma­jor U.S. air­port,” the FAA said in a state­ment. “Th­ese pro­ce­dures call for fuel to be dumped over des­ig­nated un­pop­u­lated ar­eas, typ­i­cally at higher al­ti­tudes so the fuel at­om­izes and dis­perses be­fore it reaches the ground.”

The FlightAwar­e web­site’s flight track showed the jet took off over the ocean and made an im­me­di­ate right turn to­ward land and cir­cled back over South­ern Cal­i­for­nia to ap­proach the air­port from the east.

Delta said it was in touch with the air­port and Fire Depart­ment and shared “con­cerns re­gard­ing re­ported mi­nor in­juries to adults and chil­dren.”

The Los An­ge­les Uni­fied School District said its Park Av­enue El­e­men­tary cam­pus in Cu­dahy and 93rd Street El­e­men­tary had “di­rect im­pacts from the fuel.”

Cor­nell said 31 chil­dren and adults were af­fected at Park Av­enue, and 12 at 93rd Street. The rest of those af­fected were at other schools.

The school district said in a state­ment that paramedics were im­me­di­ately called to treat any­one com­plain­ing of “skin ir­ri­ta­tion or breath­ing prob­lems” and that its en­vi­ron­men­tal health and safety of­fice also re­sponded.

Park Av­enue sixth-grader Diego Martinez said he and his class­mates were out­side for phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion class when they saw the air­plane fly­ing low over­head.

“It was very close,” he said.

Shortly after­ward, the air filled with the pun­gent odor of fuel.

“It was very strong, the odor,” the 12-year-old said.

Diego wasn’t doused but some of his friends com­plained that their skin was itch­ing.

Some teach­ers at Park Av­enue had headaches from the smell, said An­to­nio Buen­abad, area rep­re­sen­ta­tive for the United Teach­ers Los An­ge­les union.

“They were anx­ious to get home and shower be­cause the stench was very strong,” he said of the teach­ers.

A high school was also af­fected, but no one was treated there.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Chil­dren cov­er­ing their noses and mouths leave school where mul­ti­ple peo­ple were treated for jet fuel ex­po­sure at Park Av­enue El­e­men­tary School in Cu­dahy, Calif., on Tues­day. A jet re­turn­ing to LAX dumped its fuel over the neigh­bor­hood and the school. Af­fected peo­ple at the school were treated for skin and eye ir­ri­ta­tion. No pa­tients were trans­ported to hos­pi­tals.

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