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Waters criticizes fuel dump over Southeast LA

Rep. Maxine Waters (CA-43), chair of the Financial Services Committee, issued a statement on the dumping of jet fuel by Delta Flight #89 over local schools and communities prior to its emergency landing at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), on Jan. 14.  Her statement follows:

“As the member of Congress who represents the district that includes Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), I am deeply concerned about the reported dumping of jet fuel by Delta flight #89, while flying over local schools and communities, prior to an emergency landing at LAX.  It is my understanding that dozens of children and school personnel at several schools were impacted.  The jet fuel reportedly made physical contact with some students, raining down on them and touching their skin, while other students and school personnel were exposed to noxious fumes.

“Following this incident, my office spoke to officials representing Delta, LAX, Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, the Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACoFD), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the National Transportation Safety Board in order to learn as much as possible about this incident and the response efforts that followed.

“Thus far, my office has been in contact with six schools that were directly impacted by the fuel dump, and I or my staff spoke directly with each of the school principals.  I was informed that paramedics and first responders examined children and staff at these schools and rendered first aid where necessary, and cleanup crews were sent to wash surfaces that had come in contact with the fuel and provide other remediation efforts.  It is my understanding that Delta, LAUSD, and LACoFD were involved in the response efforts.

“I will continue to investigate other schools and parts of the community that may have been impacted.

“I am deeply concerned about the effects of the jet fuel exposure on students, school personnel, and residents who live in the surrounding area, and I am investigating this incident to determine why the jet fuel was dumped over a populated area and whether the response efforts were sufficient to address the potential harm.

“I am especially concerned about whether the pilot followed proper procedures when he dumped the fuel.  According to the FAA, there are procedures that flight crews are expected to follow when they find it necessary to dump fuel and make an emergency landing.  Typically, these procedures call for the fuel to be dumped over unpopulated areas and at higher altitudes in order to allow the fuel to disperse before it reaches the ground.  While we do not yet know the nature of the emergency facing the pilot in this case, it is deeply troubling that the fuel was released over local schools, rather than over the ocean or another unpopulated area.

“I am also concerned about whether the initial response was sufficient to protect the local population.  I intend to determine why the affected children were not taken to medical facilities or evaluated by physicians to determine whether exposure to the fuel was harmful.  Moreover, I intend to determine how the school yards and affected surfaces were cleaned, how air quality was affected, and what actions are being taken to monitor students and local residents for possible long-term health effects.

“I will continue to investigate this incident and the mitigation efforts, demand answers, and insist on thorough health examinations and follow-up.  I will always do everything I can to protect the health and safety of the people who live, work and go to school near LAX.”