By Doha Madani at NBC
Scores of people were exposed to jet fuel or fumes on Tuesday when a Delta flight was forced to dump fuel over a Los Angeles schoolyard and school buildings during an emergency shortly after departing Los Angeles International Airport.
At least 20 children were treated for minor injuries after being exposed to the jet fuel, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department. The department said a total of 60 people were treated from six schools in the area.
Delta Flight 89, on its way to China, Shanghai, experienced an engine issue that required it to return to LAX shortly after takeoff, the company said in a statement. The plane landed safely after the fuel release, which the airline said was required as part of the procedure.
“We 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,” Delta said.
The Federal Aviation Administration said it was looking into the reports that school children were being treated for fuel exposure.
The FAA also said that there are special fuel-dumping procedures for any aircraft operating from any major U.S. airport: “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.”
LAX confirmed that it was aware of the Delta flight reporting a mechanical issue and conducting an “emergency fuel release” before returning.
“We 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,” the airport said on its Twitter account.