Powder Falls From Alaska Airlines Plane Vent, Triggers Emergency Response

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SAN JOSE, Calif. (CBSNews) —  A de-icing agent known as glycol is thought to be responsible for a hazardous materials incident that sent a flight-crew member to a hospital Thursday (Jan. 12) evening on a plane that landed in San Jose, California, CBS San Francisco station KPIX-TV reports.

Flight attendants in a front galley on Alaska Airlines Flight 322 saw a light powdery substance coming out of a vent in the ceiling.

Two of them said they didn’t feel well and requested medics meet them after landing, according to Ann Zaninovich, a spokeswoman for Alaska Airlines.

The San Jose Fire Department’s communications center was notified of a problem onboard the flight from Seattle around 6:25 p.m., according to Capt. Mitch Matlow.

The plane landed around 6:45 p.m. but was kept away from the terminal while emergency crews went in to assess the situation.

Three crew members had symptoms during the flight, according to Matlow, but only one continued to have symptoms afterward, and that individual was taken to a hospital.

“Our hazardous materials team determined it was safe to return the aircraft to the airline without doing any decontamination,” Matlow said.

None of the passengers were affected, according to Matlow.

The airline is working to identify the material that caused the incident, Matlow said. They’ve hired a private firm to investigate and resolve the situation.

“They’re being very cooperative with the fire department and airport management to determine what the material or materials were,” Matlow said.

“At this point it’s unknown,” he said. “We’ve received too many conflicting reports from people on the aircraft to say what actually happened, so we’re still working identify it.”

Passengers were allowed to exit the aircraft by about 7:45 p.m., according to airport spokeswoman Rosemary Barnes.

The plane has been taken out of service, according to Zaninovich, and a hazardous materials team is inspecting the substance.

Alaska Airlines plans to fully clean the ventilation system of the plane before it goes back into service, Zaninovich said.

There were 181 passengers and six crewmembers on Flight 322.

It departed from Seattle at 4:48 p.m. and arrived at 6:54 p.m.

The plane was Boeing 737-900.