Four teachers from a Los Angeles-area school sued Delta Air Lines on Friday, saying they were exposed to jet fuel when a plane with engine trouble dumped its fuel over a densely populated area, including several schools, while making an emergency return to the airport. The teachers described the fuel as drizzling down like raindrops with “overwhelming” fumes. They said their panicked students screamed and cried. “The plaintiffs could feel the fuel on their clothes, their flesh, their eyes, and their skin,” said attorney Gloria Allred, who noted that her firm may add teachers or students to the lawsuit. “Fuel penetrated their mouths and noses as well, producing a lasting and severe irritation.” Officials have said nearly 60 children and teachers were exposed Tuesday and were examined for minor skin and lung irritations, reports the AP. No one was taken to a hospital.
The teachers at Park Avenue Elementary School in Cudahy said they sought medical treatment after the incident and suffered physical and emotional pain; they seek unspecified damages. The South Coast Air Quality Management District has issued a public nuisance violation to Delta for the fuel dump. Not much is known about the health effects of exposure to jet fuel, per the federal Health and Human Services Department. Studies using military personnel suggest it can affect the nervous system, but that research involved people who work around jet fuel all the time. The FAA is investigating the fuel dump, citing procedures that “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.” The airline previously said Flight 89 had an engine problem and needed to quickly return to LAX. The Boeing 777-200 landed safely after circling back over Los Angeles while dumping 15,000 gallons of fuel to reach a safe landing weight.
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