Return to Headlines

FAQs Regarding the Delta Airlines Fuel Discharge Incident

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Delta Airlines Fuel Discharge Incident on Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Q. What information do we have about what happened?

A. About 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, January 14, Delta Airlines Flight 89 departed Los Angeles International Airport, bound for Shanghai. Shortly after takeoff, the pilot reported engine trouble and circled back to LAX to make an emergency landing. Enroute, the pilot discharged fuel to reduce the weight of the Boeing 777 before landing. Numerous Los Angeles Unified schools were under the flight path. Students and staff were outdoors at three schools and were impacted by falling fuel; 23 other schools also were impacted by the discharge.

Q. How did Los Angeles Unified respond to this incident?

A. Los Angeles Unified responded immediately to ensure the safety of our students and staff. School staff responded to the schools where fuel fell on students and staff, along with Los Angeles Fire Department firefighters, paramedics and hazardous materials teams, and personnel from the Los Angeles County Fire and Public Health Departments. Paramedics treated everyone who reported having skin irritation or breathing problems. All schools in the impacted areas were contacted, and staff visited every classroom to ensure anyone who might have been affected was treated.

Following the direction of the Public Health Department, schools advised parents to bathe their child with soap and water and to thoroughly wash the clothing their child was wearing at the time. The department also suggested that families discard the clothing if the odor of fuel lingered after several washes.

Los Angeles Unified continues to work with the Public Health Department and other agencies and will provide updates, as needed.

Q. Was it safe for my child to return to school?

A. Los Angeles Unified worked with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to ensure the safety of the school community. On Tuesday night, all outdoor surfaces, lunch tables, play equipment and drinking fountains were cleaned according to the department’s standards. Schools also ran the air-conditioning system overnight to provide ventilation in the classrooms. Schools were opened on Wednesday after air-monitoring tests showed it was safe to do so.

Q. What other services have been provided to students and staff affected by the fuel discharge?

A. Los Angeles Unified deployed crisis teams of counselors, nurses and other staff to the affected schools on Wednesday to provide health and mental health services to those who needed additional support. Counselors remain available to provide assistance.

Q. Is my child’s school safe for outside activities or playing on grass fields?

A. Yes. In consultation with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and the County Fire Department Health Hazardous Materials Division, cleaning activities were completed before schools opened on Wednesday. Although residual fuel would have evaporated quickly after the incident, irrigation of grass areas and fields was included in the cleaning activities in an abundance of caution. After the cleaning, the County Hazardous Materials Division and Los Angeles Unified's Office of Environmental Health and Safety used air-monitoring instruments to test the classrooms and school campuses. None of the volatile organic compounds that are used in jet fuel were detected.

Q. Who is responsible for determining what occurred?

A. The Federal Aviation Administration and other local, state government regulatory agencies, along with Delta Airlines are investigating the incident.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District also investigated the incident and last week issued a Notice of Violation to Delta, stating it had created a public nuisance for discharging fuel over schools and populated communities.

Q. Who do I contact if I have additional questions or concerns about my child’s health or health of staff and others impacted?

A. Families or staff who would like more information, or feel they may have been affected by the incident are encouraged to call Delta Airlines at 1-800-441-5955 or Los Angeles County Department of Public Health at 211.

------------------------------------------------------------------------

News Statement: All Los Angeles Unified Schools Impacted by the Delta Airlines Airplane Fuel Discharge Open Today (01-15-20)

On Tuesday afternoon, a Delta Airlines airplane discharged fuel while making an emergency landing at the Los Angeles International Airport. Three Los Angeles Unified schools were directly impacted by the discharge, while about 20 others experienced effects of the odor from the dispersion of fuel at higher altitude.

All students and school staff who were affected by the discharge or odor were evaluated and treated on site by health and safety staff from schools, Los Angeles Fire Department and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. Educators also visited every classroom to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all school communities.

The County of Los Angeles Fire Department Health Hazardous Materials Division, the Los Angeles Fire Department and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health have visited all impacted schools and conducted air monitoring.

In addition, the County of Los Angeles Fire Department Health Hazardous Materials Division provided guidelines on the appropriate process to clean the impacted school campuses. Working closely with these agencies, as well as the Delta Airlines Environmental Compliance Department, the following has been completed at all impacted schools:

  • All outdoor lunch tables, outdoor play equipment, drinking fountains and playground surfaces were washed.
  • Air-conditioning systems were activated throughout the night to ventilate schools.

Los Angeles Unified and the County of Los Angeles Fire Department Health Hazardous Materials Division conducted additional air monitoring throughout the night and confirmed all reported schools are safe, ready for occupancy and will be open today.  

Families who would like more information, or feel as if they may have been affected by the jet fuel release, are encouraged to call Delta Airlines at 1-800-441-5955. The Los Angeles Department of Public Health has also advised that residents call 211 for health-related questions or for more information regarding this incident.

We will continue to closely monitor this situation, update our families, staff and school communities and work to ensure the safety of our schools.

Los Angeles Unified will continue to provide timely updates at lausd.net, KLCS-TV and on all social media platforms. Families can also call our hotline at 213-443-1300.

###