60 patients at 6 schools treated after Delta flight drops jet fuel while returning to LAX

California Connection
Data pix.

LOS ANGELES (KTLA) – Dozens of people at six schools in the Los Angeles area were treated for minor injuries after a plane with mechanical issues dumped a load of jet fuel while returning to LAX for an emergency landing on Tuesday, officials said.

The incident was initially reported shortly before noon at Park Avenue Elementary School, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department. FOX40 sister station KTLA reports 31 patients — 20 children and 11 adults — complained of minor injuries after Delta Air Lines Flight 89 dropped fuel over the school's playground, officials said.

The patients were triaged on the campus, which is about 14 miles east of Los Angeles International Airport.

Seventy county firefighters and paramedics responded to what was described as a multicasualty incident.

In addition to Park Avenue, county fire crews also treated six patients apiece at San Gabriel Avenue and Tweedy elementary schools, both in South Gate, and one patient at Graham Elementary School in Florence-Graham.

The Los Angeles Fire Department also responded to two schools, Jordan High School in Florence-Firestone and 93rd Street Elementary School in Green Meadows, officials with the Los Angeles Fire Department later confirmed.

Sixteen people were treated for minor injuries at the two Los Angeles campuses, bringing the total number of treated at all six schools to 60.

None of the patients were transported to hospitals, according to both departments.

Students complained of having itchy skin and eyes, as well as sore throats. They told KTLA the incident led to confusion and fear around the campus.

A number of people also complained of the fuel's noxious odor in the aftermath. Many students walking away from the school in Cudahy could be seen covering their noses with hands, clothing and even surgical masks.

And residents around Park Avenue Elementary reported being able to rub gasoline right off their cars with their fingers.

“That’s obviously a concern for us as well — the life and safety of everyone involved and around the area — so we have constant monitoring going on,” county fire spokesman Sky Cornell told KTLA. “We have meters that are able to detect if there is any unsafe levels that we shouldn’t be around. At this time, we don’t have any reports of that.”

No evacuations were ordered but the Los Angeles Unified School District's Office of Environment Health and Safety was dispatched, according to LAUSD.

The plane, a Boeing 777 bound for Shanghai, had mechanical issues and landed back at LAX just before noon, according to an airport spokesperson.

The plane had just taken off when it began experiencing an engine issue, which forced it to return to the airport, Delta said in a statement.

"The aircraft landed safely after a release of fuel, which was required as part of normal procedure to reach a safe landing weight," the statement read. "We are in touch with Los Angeles World Airports and the LA County Fire Department and share concerns regarding reported minor injuries to adults and children at a school in the area.”

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating, the agency said in a statement.

Procedures for fuel dumps near U.S. airports 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 FAA stated.

LAFD reported that the plane "passed over the school at a relatively low altitude."

This is a developing story.

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