Delta Flight Dumps Jet Fuel Over LA Schools; Dozens Of Students, Adults Treated For Exposure

CBS Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – School officials say about 40 children and adults were affected Tuesday when jet fuel dumped by a Delta airliner making an emergency return to Los Angeles International Airport fell onto several area schools.

Approximately 20 children and 11 adults at Park Avenue Elementary School reported a reaction after they were exposed to jet fuel that fell on a playground, according to Los Angeles County firefighters. 

Several more students and adults at San Gabriel Avenue Elementary in South Gate, Jordan High and 93rd Street Elementary in South Los Angeles, Graham Elementary in Inglewood, and Tweedy Elementary in South Gate were also treated.

Some patients complained of skin and eye irritation but were treated with soap and water and no one needed to be taken to a hospital.

Los Angeles County firefighters later confirmed that the substance was, in fact, jet fuel and that all injuries were minor.

At least one person told CBSLA jet fuel was also dropped over PIH Health hospital in Whittier.

Workers at an Orange County electroplating shop said they could see and smell tiny drops of jet fuel that was dumped on their cars.

The FAA said in a statement to CBSLA’s Cristy Fajardo, “Delta Air Lines Flight 89 declared an emergency after departing from LAX, returned to the airport and landed without incident. The FAA is aware of and looking into reports that children at a school east of LAX are being treated for fuel exposure.”

Delta Air Lines said in a statement: “This morning, Delta Flight 89 from LAX to Shanghai reported a mechanical issue and returned safely to LAX. Delta has confirmed that the aircraft conducted an emergency fuel release while in flight. We 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 investigators continue. We thanks LA County Fire, the LA Fire Department and other responding agencies for their fast response and we are working to learn more.”

According to CBS News, the pilots of the Boeing 777 received a notification of a possible compressor stall affecting its right engine shortly after takeoff. The pilots radioed air traffic control, declared an emergency and turned around.

A compressor stall — or compressor stall warning — is a sign of an engine issue that typically prompts an engine shutdown.

The Downey Fire Department advised residents to keep odor out, close doors, windows, and air conditioning or heating systems following the nearby fuel drop.

Parents who rushed to pick up their kids from school were concerned about any potential health risks.

“I smelt it, then I started to realize what was going on, the fire department, the cops, the street blocked off,” said mom Liz Corrasco. “So I just ran over here.”

Twelve-year-old Diego Martinez told CBSLA some of the jet fuel landed on his sweatshirt.

“They told us…to wash our head, our face, the back of the ears, and our neck,” he said.


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