Although the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) launched an investigation on the day a Delta jetliner released nearly 10,000 pounds of fuel over a wide swath of Southeast Los Angeles County, the federal probe of this incident is still not complete. The residents of Cudahy, South Gate, Pico Rivera and other cities deserve to know why this occurred and what steps Delta Airlines will take to ensure fuel dumping over neighborhoods will not happen again. To make sure Delta Airlines responds to affected communities, the Board of Supervisors today approved a motion authored by Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis to send a five-signature letter to the FAA urging it to expedite its investigation of this jet fuel incident and to host community meetings to inform the public of its findings.
“From day one, I have pressed for a thorough investigation to determine what caused this incident, and now over six weeks later affected residents still do not have any answers as to what went wrong or any reassurances from Delta that this will not happen again. This is unacceptable,” said Supervisor Solis. “These communities have suffered an environmental injustice and their voices deserve to be heard. Delta needs to step up and work closely with the community to help facilitate the healing process.”
On Jan. 14, Delta jetliner flight 89 departed Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) bound for Shanghai when it had to turn back due to mechanical issues. While en route back to LAX, the airplane released jet fuel over residential neighborhoods, showering children at several schools in Southeast LA County. Not only did the jet fuel make physical contact with students and school staff, but it also took an emotional toll and traumatized those impacted. The County Departments of Fire, Public Health, and Emergency Management responded quickly to provide aid to all those affected.
On the same day, the FAA stated it began a investigation that would take a few weeks to complete. In a statement released that same day, the FAA said Delta had failed to notify air traffic control of the need to jettison fuel and did not dump it at an optimal altitude or location, as protocol dictates that fuel be released over designated unpopulated areas and not over residential areas.
Today’s motion directs County Departments to work with Delta and the community in coordinating the development of a benefits package that will mitigate the harm suffered by impacted communities. The motion also calls on the FAA to hold culturally sensitive, multilingual public meetings to discuss the findings of its investigation with residents who should be allowed to ask questions.
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