Friday, January 24, 2020, Congresswoman Maxine Waters held an important and emergent meeting to discuss a fuel dump over a Los Angeles County school and communities on January 14, 2020.
Delta Airlines flight 89, traveling from Los Angeles to Shanghai, China, is currently being investigated to discover the exact nature of the problem and reasoning for the crew’s response. According to current reports, flight staff notified the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of an issue regarding the plane’s engine, resulting in the staff deciding to return to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The crew then decided to dump fuel at about 8,000 feet altitude until reaching 2,500 feet altitude, dropping approximately 100,000 pounds of fuel onto populated areas across the city.
“As the Member of Congress who represents the district that includes Los Angeles International Airport, 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,” Congresswoman Waters said in her opening statement.
She continued, “It is my understanding that dozens of children and school personnel at several schools were impacted. 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.”
Since the incident, the congresswoman has been in contact with officials representing Delta Airlines, LAX, the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board. Also making contact with first responders such as the Los Angeles County and City Fire Departments, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).
“This is an ongoing investigation,” she shared, “I will continue to investigate the other schools and parts of the community that may have been impacted.”
“At this particular time, I would like to make it known that I’m deeply concerned about the effects of the jet fuel exposure on students, school personnel and residents who live in surrounding areas. I am investigating to determine why the jet fuel was dumped over a populated area and whether efforts were sufficient to address the potential harm.”
Congresswoman Waters empathized with residents who live along the path of LAX air traffic, “we learned to complain and organize around issues of noise, etc. But we never anticipated a thought that there would be a time where jet fuel would be released in the community.”
“One thing we do know, the community must be strong enough to be able to ask the questions. To be able to make some demands. To be able to do what is necessary to determine who has liability. As we must be able to have access to the healthcare that may be needed to determine whether or not we have been at risk or whether or not we have been wrong.”
While the investigation is still ongoing, therefore, many facts aren’t able to be fully answered, Congresswoman Waters promised to continue to fight for answers both in L.A. and upon her return to the capitol.
The meeting included a panel to discuss efforts from various organizations. Panelists included Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Captain Tony Imbrenda, Los Angeles Fire Department Deputy Chief Armando Hogan, Los Angeles County Health Department Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis, Delta Airlines Vice President of Los Angeles and Sales Scott Santoro and Los Angeles Unified School District Director of the Office of Environmental Health and Safety Carlos Torres.
Each panelist had five minutes to explain their action the day of the incident and what they are doing as follow up measures for everyone involved. Los Angeles County Health Department is looking into the chemicals that were in the fuel to determine if produce from trees and local farms as safe, as well as offering free health exams to those affected by the dump. Santaro also promised to show up to every town hall and hear out the community and offer answers and solutions.
“Understand that this is an ongoing investigation, as more information becomes availing we’ll be better able to provide some additional information and if there are any prolonged health impacts from this particular incident,” Dr. Davis confirmed.
He continued, “It is a partnership between all the responsibilities, and we do need to have some different information from the investigation to make the proper determination.”
As of now, the groups are continuously working together under the leadership of Congresswoman Waters. “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,” she stated.
The list of medical centers offering free examinations are as followed: St. John’s Well Child and Family Center, UMMA Community Clinic, Watts Health Center, South Bay Family Health Care, Alta Med Medical & Dental Group, BHS Family Health Center, South Central Family Health Center.
Jet fuel or fume exposure can cause respiratory irritation, nausea, headaches, dizziness, and skin and eye irritation. Also noting, many students and school personnel were assessed at school, but turned down further examination. If experiencing these symptoms, health professionals and Congresswoman Waters urges all to get checked by a medical professional.
“I encourage all local residents who may have been impacted to come forward and receive medical evaluations without delay.”