A plane dumped jet fuel on an elementary school near Los Angeles on Tuesday, inflicting minor injuries on 17 children and nine adults, the Los Angeles County Fire Department said.
Shortly after Delta Flight 89 took off from Los Angeles International Airport, the plane’s pilot declared an emergency “related to a mechanical issue on board,” said Heath Montgomery, a spokesman for the airport. The plane had taken off at 11:32 a.m. and was bound for Shanghai, but it returned to the tarmac 15 minutes after takeoff, Mr. Montgomery said, adding that no one on the flight was injured.
The plane dumped the fuel over Park Avenue Elementary School in Cudahy, Calif., causing several people to complain of minor skin irritation, said Sean Ferguson, a spokesman for the Fire Department. It was not immediately clear why the plane had let the fuel drop over a highly populated area in southeast Los Angeles County.
The Federal Aviation Administration said planes were supposed to dump fuel over “designated unpopulated areas, typically at higher altitudes so the fuel atomizes and disperses before it reaches the ground.” The agency said it was investigating the dump.
All of the 26 patients declined to be transported to hospitals, Mr. Ferguson said, but emergency medical workers were decontaminating everyone who had complained about irritation.
Adrian Gee, a spokeswoman for Delta, said the flight had experienced an issue with its engine and had “landed safely after an emergency fuel release to reduce landing weight.”
Mr. Ferguson said that despite the frequent sight and sound of planes approaching the Los Angeles airport for landing, he could not recall another instance in which a plane dumped fuel on civilians in the last decade.