In this photo from video, Delta Air Lines Flight 89 to Shanghai, China dumps fuel over Los Angeles before returning to Los Angeles International Airport for an emergency landing Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020. Fire officials say fuel apparently dumped by the aircraft returning to LAX fell onto an elementary school playground. A fire department tweet says firefighters are assessing "multiple patients" at the school in the suburban city of Cudahy, Calif. The flight tracking website FlightAware shows that Delta Air Lines Flight 89 to Shanghai, China, departed LAX, circled back over Southern California and returned to the airport.
Photo: AP Photo/Matt Hartman
Photo: AP Photo/Matt Hartman

Delta fuel dump over LA schools to be subject of town hall meeting

Delta Air Lines faces more public scrutiny at a town hall meeting Friday after one of its planes dumped jet fuel over several Los Angeles-area schools earlier this week. 

Officials in Cudahy, Calif., where school children and others were sprayed by the fuel or exposed to fumes Tuesday, planned the event. Speakers include a state senator, a school district board member, representatives for U.S. Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-CA, California State Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Los Angeles County supervisor Hilda Solis, as well as representatives from three cities and the fire department.

Atlanta-based Delta is not scheduled to speak, but said it continues to work with the school district’s office of environmental health and safety department to help those affected by the fuel dump. The company also posted a phone number, 800-441-5955, for people and property owners who believe they may have been affected. 

Tuesday’s incident, which came as pilots prepared for an emergency landing, has generated headlines nationally. Los Angeles County firefighters were called to schools where nearly 60 children and adults were examined for minor skin and lung irritations, but none required hospitalization, the Associated Press reported.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating, saying that fuel-dumping 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 Flight 89 from Los Angeles to Shanghai had an engine issue shortly after takeoff that required a quick return to Los Angeles International Airport. Before the plane landed safely back at LAX, it released fuel to reach a safe landing weight, exposing children in school as well as adults on the ground to the fuel vapor.

Delta sent cleaning crews to help clean the schools Tuesday evening before students returned to class the next day. The company said all outside surfaces that students could come into contact with were cleaned.

Delta and the Los Angeles Unified School District, the L.A. County health department and other officials also held a press conference Wednesday to respond to the incident.

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About the Author

Kelly Yamanouchi
Kelly Yamanouchi
Business reporter Kelly Yamanouchi covers airlines and the airport.
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