More than a dozen children at three Los Angeles schools were being treated by paramedics Tuesday after being hit with jet fuel dumped by a plane circling overhead on its way back into Los Angeles International Airport, authorities said. At one of the schools, 17 children were playing on the school playground were hit with jet fuel.
Delta airlines acknowledge having to dump fuel because its Flight 89 had to make an emergency landing at the airport shortly before noon. The Federal Aviation Administration issued a statement announcing plans to investigate the incident to find out if the flight crew followed protocol by dumping fuel over unpopulated areas at a high enough altitude to ensure the fuel disperses before reaching the ground.
Authorities are investigating the hazardous-material exposure to 20 children and 11 adults at Park Avenue Elementary in Cudahy. Additionally, students at Jordan High School and 93rd Street Elementary School in Los Angeles were all affected along with a combined 12 people at Tweedy Elementary and San Gabriel Elementary School in South Gate. One adult patient at Graham Elementary in the Florence area was also treated. None had to be taken to a 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.
Emergency crews responded shortly after noon to the school in the 8000 block of Park Avenue and determined that jet fuel had fallen onto the area, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department. Crews then confirmed that the material that hit the students and adults was jet fuel.
All the injuries suffered were minor, according to the L.A. County Fire Department. All the affected students were released at the scene to their parents or family members.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy: AP
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