State Finds Allegations Against San Diego Airport Company Which Employed Drunk Jet Fuel Driver Unfounded

Investigation focused on allegations of employees drinking on the job and poorly maintained fuel trucks

Allegations that San Diego Airport jet fuel drivers were arriving at work smelling of alcohol are unfounded, according to a state agency responsible for workplace safety.

During its investigation, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) also found allegations that Aircraft Service International Group (ASIG) poorly maintained airport jet fuel tanker trucks to be untrue.

ASIG contracts with Lindbergh Field to provide fuel for jet airliners and employees to drive airport fuel tankers. The firm is headquartered in England.

In June, NBC 7 Investigates obtained airport surveillance video showing a drunk ASIG jet fuel driver stumbling significantly and falling down while trying to fuel a plane. The employee, 56-year-old James Stewart, was arrested with a blood alcohol content of 0.24, three times the legal limit to drive a vehicle.

The same month, Stewart pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor DUI charge.

Click here to see the video and original investigation.

After the story aired, NBC 7 Investigates received a series of emails from an individual identifying himself as a former employee of ASIG. The emails alleged ASIG employees were showing up to work with the smell of alcohol on their breath and the tanker trucks carrying the jet fuel were poorly maintained.

The allegations were forwarded to the Cal/OSHA and the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority.

A letter from the Airport Authority to Kathy Derham of Cal/OSHA details how Lindberg investigated the allegations. According to the letter, the complaint was resolved, and was a “single isolated incident of an employee of Aircraft Service International Group.”

The Authority’s letter to OSHA details how two witnesses saw the ASIG worker “appearing to be driving a fuel truck at the Airport while being under the influence of alcohol.” The letter continues to describe how the Airport Authority does not employ the ground service operations personnel and was not responsible. According to the letter, the Authority has rules in place to ensure safe operations, specifically addressing the use of drugs or alcohol.

A memorandum from ASIG to their employees was included in the letter to Cal/OSHA. It was a reminder to employees about their obligation not to “report to work under the influence of drugs or alcohol.” Another document included with the letter shows tarmac supervisors for ASIG were enrolled by the firm in a refresher course on “Anti-Drug Alcohol Training.”

Click here to read the letter and memorandum.

Cal/OSHA also investigated the allegation that a 2014 fuel spill on the tarmac was the result of poor maintenance of the trucks.

In the letter, the Authority said while it had no direct responsibility, it did have regulations requiring “all vehicles including fuel trucks must be in good repair at all time.” According to the letter, the Authority inspects refueling equipment at the airport quarterly.

After becoming aware of the allegations, the Airport Authority requested ASIG to immediately inspect all fuel trucks, according to the letter. Documents provided with the letter detail how the company reported it found two issues requiring corrective action; both minor and involving fire extinguishers on the trucks.

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