Jet fuel dumped from a Delta airliner preparing to make an emergency landing at Los Angeles International Airport fell over a wide swath of the area Tuesday, sending hazardous-materials teams to multiple schools, but only minor injuries were reported and nobody was hospitalized.
Delta Air Lines flight 89 bound for Shanghai, China, took off from LAX around 11:15 a.m. According to Delta, the plane “experienced an engine issue requiring the aircraft to return to LAX. The aircraft landed safely after a release of fuel, which was required as part of normal procedure to reach a safe landing weight.”:
No injuries were reported aboard the aircraft, which landed back at LAX around noon. The exact nature of the engine issue was not immediately known.
The fuel dump, which was captured on video posted online by several witnesses, caused the fuel to rain down over a wide area, including students and staff members at multiple schools.
Los Angeles County Fire Department crews responded shortly after noon to Park Avenue Elementary School in the 8000 block of Park Avenue in Cudahy, where students and staff complained of skin irritation or minor respiratory problems.
Fire officials said 20 children and 11 adults at the campus were treated at the campus, but none required hospitalization.
The Los Angeles Unified School District issued a statement saying, “Students and staff were on the playground at the time and may have been sprayed by fuel or inhaled fumes. (School officials) immediately called paramedics, who are on the scene and are treating anyone who is complaining of skin irritation or breathing problems.”
According to the district, school officials were “visiting every classroom to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all students and staff.”
Representatives of the district’s Office of Environmental Health and Safety and Los Angeles School Police also responded to the school.
According to the county Fire Department, it also tended to six people affected by the fuel at Tweedy Elementary in South Gate, one adult patient at Graham Elementary in the Florence area and six patients at San Gabriel Elementary. None had to be transported.
The Los Angeles Fire Department, meanwhile, responded to complaints of irritation from the fuel at Jordan High School near Watts and 93rd Street Elementary School in South Los Angeles. According to the LAFD, a total of 16 patients were assessed, but none required a trip to the hospital.
Los Angeles School Police said students were dismissed for the day at 93rd Street Elementary, but classes resumed at Jordan High, where students were dismissed at 3 p.m.
Police in Downey confirmed that the fuel release also affected parts of that city, but no injuries were reported.
The Federal Aviation Administration issued a statement saying it is “thoroughly investigating” the circumstances of the fuel dump.
“There are special fuel-dumping procedures for aircraft operating into and out of any major U.S. airport,” according to the FAA. “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.”
In its statement, Delta said airline officials “are in touch with Los Angeles World Airports and the L.A. County Fire Department and share concerns regarding reported minor injuries to adults and children at a school in the area.”
LAX officials issued a statement saying they “are concerned about reports of impacts on the ground from the fuel release, and are in close communication with Delta and first responders as their investigations continue.”
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