BURIEN, Wash. — A day after a jumbo jet departing from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) dumped fuel over four area schools sickening dozens of children and adults, the mayor of Burien is calling for the Port of Seattle to develop a plan to address the possibility of a similar incident at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
“It was shocking,” said Mayor Jimmy Matta. “I live in a city where planes fly over every day. That could happen in Burien. That could happen in neighboring cities around the Port.”
Matta said he thinks it’s important for the Port of Seattle to develop a plan of action.
The Delta flight out of LAX, which was headed for Shanghai, was only airborne for a few minutes before being forced to circle back to the airport to make an emergency landing.
Delta released a statement saying, “The aircraft landed safely after an emergency fuel release to reduce landing weight.”
Matta said the incident got him thinking about the risks an increasing number of flights could pose to his own community. Sea-Tac is now the eighth busiest airport in the country.
“If that was to happen here in King County, how would we handle it?” asked Matta. “What are we doing when it comes to environmental justice? What kind of training are we having for our children? What really are these fuels that are coming over our community? What is it doing to our health?”
Matta said he hoped to talk to Port commissioners to figure out how the county would handle such a mishap. He said he will consider taking up the issue at a future city council meeting.
Matta has been vocal about health, environmental, and noise issues facing communities neighboring Sea-Tac.
Last month, he claimed a “David and Goliath” victory after the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the city of Burien in a lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Administration over the “Burien Turn,” a low-altitude flight pattern that increased noise over the city.
Now, Matta said he wants to see federal regulators engage more with cities like Burien, SeaTac, and Des Moines.
“We want to see decision-makers. We want to see airlines. We want to see the FAA. We want to see the EPA. We want to see federal agencies that regulate the airport in our communities,” he said. “It’s important.”