Frustrated community members questioned government officials and Delta Air Lines representatives during a meeting to talk about a fuel dump from a plane making an emergency landing near Los Angeles this week.
The town hall meeting held in Cudahy, California, on Friday was packed, with some audience members holding signs with messages like “Stop letting corporations dump on us” and “Protect our children like they were PG&E.”
A representative for Delta read a statement sending apologies on behalf of the company and updates on the investigation into the aircraft that dumped fuel over five elementary schools in the Los Angeles area.
“On behalf of Delta, we deeply regret what happened,” said managing director of state and local affairs for Delta, Dana Debel. “What we’re here to do today is to listen to all of you.” She was interrupted by a chorus of angry voices.
“That doesn’t make it right,” one woman can be heard saying. “Oh, now you do (regret it),” said a man.
Sixty people were treated after the Delta plane dumped jet fuel making its emergency landing Tuesday. A plane making an emergency landing must lose some fuel to be light enough to land, but procedure calls for that to take place at high altitudes over designated unpopulated areas, according to the FAA.
Had the plane been at 8,000 feet when the dump occurred, the fuel would never have hit the schools because it would be atomized after leaving the wings, said CNN aviation safety analyst David Soucie.
Although those affected were not treated for severe injuries, leaders of the community and members of the audience came together on their concern for the long-term consequences.
“I want to tell the children, we’re here for you,” said Rep. Maxine Waters. “My main concern at this point is the health and welfare of the children and the people of our community.”
The Los Angeles Unified School District will be following up on students and staff that were hit directly with the fuel as well as those who were inside but exposed to the fumes, said board member Jackie Goldberg.
“We know that our neighborhoods in this area are not new to contaminants,” Goldberg said, adding that the fuel made worse air quality already contaminated by lead and arsenic. “We intend to make sure that we work very closely with Delta Air Lines to make good on all the requirements to get the community whole once again.”
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