Press Releases

Rep. Roybal-Allard Leads Letter Urging House Oversight on Delta Fuel Dump & FAA Response

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Washington, March 4, 2020 | Ben Soskin ((202) 225-1766) | comments
Today, Congresswomen Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Maxine Waters (CA-43), Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), and Linda T. Sánchez (CA-38), whose districts and communities were affected by the January 14 Delta Airlines jet fuel dump, sent a letter to the leaders of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and its Aviation Subcommittee.  The congresswomen’s letter formally requested that the committee hold an oversight hearing regarding the fuel dump, and require the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to provide information about the fuel dump and the subsequent investigation.  The congresswomen’s request follows FAA Deputy Administrator Daniel K. Elwell’s March 2 letter to the congresswomen, which failed to provide the comprehensive replies about the fuel dump and investigation that the congresswomen had sought in their January 22 letter to the FAA.

A PDF of the congresswomen’s letter of today can be found here, and the text of their letter can be seen below.  The letter was sent to Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio (OR-04) and Ranking Member Sam Graves (MO-06), as well as Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Rick Larsen (WA-02) and Garret Graves (LA-06).

Dear Chairmen and Ranking Members:

We respectfully request the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure convene a formal congressional hearing to require the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to provide the detailed information we requested on the recent fuel dump by a Delta passenger carrier over our districts. 
  
On January 14, 2020, Delta Airlines Flight 89 (Flight 89) dumped approximately 85,000 pounds of jet fuel on the largely minority communities in our congressional districts while on approach to make an emergency landing at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Flight 89 approached LAX at low altitude while dumping fuel. As a result, the fuel that it dumped did not atomize before it reached the ground.  
 
Constituents, including school children, teachers, and others in our districts who were outside at the time of the fuel dump, were exposed to the jet fuel as it rained down from the sky. Those exposed exhibited symptoms of exposure to jet fuel, including skin irritation, eye irritation, and respiratory distress. To say that this experience was traumatic, especially for these children in our districts, is an understatement. 
 
On January 22, 2020, we wrote a letter to FAA Administrator Steve Dickson seeking immediate and comprehensive responses regarding federal regulations governing fuel dumps, FAA’s timeline for the investigation into the dumped fuel, and specific information about the chemical composition of the dumped fuel and its health risks. 
 
On March 2, 2020, FAA Deputy Administrator Daniel K. Elwell responded to our letter. His response lacked the specific information and details we requested, and it failed to provide the answers our communities have demanded. In addition, the response letter does not clarify whether the FAA investigation is complete. 
 
We are outraged by FAA’s response. Those impacted by the fuel dump have a right to have their concerns honestly and thoroughly addressed. Furthermore, as Members of Congress, we are entitled to responsive dialogue with the executive branch in order to execute our constitutionally mandated oversight role. 
 
We understand and appreciate the potential need for preventative measures, including fuel-dumping, during aviation emergencies such as occurred on January 14, 2020 at LAX. However, we are deeply troubled by FAA’s lack of transparency and responsiveness to the concerns raised by the impacted communities nearly six weeks following the incident.  
 
Given the unanswered questions about the investigation, and given the chemical composition of the dumped fuel and its health impact, especially on the children, we request the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure convene a formal congressional hearing on the January 14, 2020, Flight 89 fuel dump over populated portions of Los Angeles. We also request that you require FAA to respond in a comprehensive and thorough manner to the questions we posed in our January 22 letter, including the complete results of the investigation. 
 
We appreciate your consideration of our request and look forward to working on this serious and critical issue with you. 
 
Sincerely,

LUCILLE ROYBAL-ALLARD
Member of Congress

LINDA T. SÁNCHEZ
Member of Congress

MAXINE WATERS
Member of Congress

NANETTE DIAZ BARRAGÁN
Member of Congress

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