A mist of jet fuel dumped by an airliner making an emergency return to Los Angeles International Airport has fallen on several schoolsFederal Aviation Administration said it is investigating.
“There are special fuel-dumping procedures for aircraft operating into and out of any major U.S. airport," the FAA said in a statement. “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."
The FlightAware website's flight track showed the jet took off over the ocean and made an immediate right turn toward land and circled back over Southern California to approach the airport from the east.
Delta said it was in touch with the airport and Fire Department and shared “concerns regarding reported minor injuries to adults and children.”
The Los Angeles Unified School District said its Park Avenue Elementary campus in Cudahy and 93rd Street Elementary had “direct impacts from the fuel.”
Cornell said 31 children and adults were affected at Park Avenue, and 12 at 93rd Street. The rest of those affected were at other schools.
The school district said in a statement that paramedics were immediately called to treat anyone complaining of “skin irritation or breathing problems” and that its environmental health and safety office also responded.
Park Avenue sixth-grader Diego Martinez said he and his classmates were outside for physical education class when they saw the airplane flying low overhead.
“It was very close,” he said.
Shortly afterward, the air filled with the pungent odor of fuel.
“It was very strong, the odor,” the 12-year-old said.
Diego wasn’t doused but some of his friends complained that their skin was itching.
Some teachers at Park Avenue had headaches from the smell, said Antonio Buenabad, area representative for the United Teachers Los Angeles union.
“They were anxious to get home and shower because the stench was very strong,” he said of the teachers.
A high school was also affected, but no one was treated there.
Associated Press reporters John Antczak and Christopher Weber contributed to this report from Los Angeles.