Entries in US (7)


What's the Worst-Dressed City in America?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Alaska is known for its panoramic views, diverse wildlife and stunning mountaintops peaked with snow.  What it takes to stay warm and safe among those wild animals and frigid temperatures, however, has earned the residents of the state's most populous city a dubious distinction.

Anchorage, Alaska, has been rated America's least stylish city.  The flannel shirts, heavy parkas and furry ear covers common in the far north city were too much for the readers of Travel + Leisure magazine who participated in the magazine's annual online poll ranking U.S. cities.

Poll participants were asked to rate 35 cities on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest.  The total scores were then averaged and rounded to the nearest hundredth.  In the " Stylish" category, Anchorage scored dead last among non-residents with a score of 3.06.

"It's not uncommon to see oversized parkas with fur-lined hoods and bunny boots, and people aren't alarmed when a person wearing a ski mask enters a room," Dr. Miriam Jones, a paleoclimatologist who spent two years studying in Alaska, told the magazine.

Ranking not far behind Anchorage in the magazine's fashion "no" list is another city with a cold climate, Salt Lake City, Utah, followed by a more moderate climate locale, Baltimore, Md., whose residents may not have anyone or anything to blame but themselves for their ranking.

Rounding out the top six on the least-stylish list are Orlando, Fla., where residents can blame the tourists that invade their city dressed for Mickey Mouse and not the runway, and the Texan cities of San Antonio and Dallas, proving that everything is bigger in Texas, even bad fashion.

Taking a bad rap for the way they are portrayed on TV are the citizens of Atlanta who were deemed the nation's seventh-least-stylish citizens thanks to a certain quintet of as-seen-on-TV stars.

"If the flashy reality-TV stars of The Real Housewives of Atlanta are at all indicative of how the rest of Atlanta dresses, it's no wonder our readers ranked it as America's No. 7 least-stylish city," Travel + Leisure writes on its website. "Hotlanta has one of the highest per-capita incomes of any southern city, but as the TV show illustrates and the saying goes: money can't buy taste."

On the other end, the best-dressed cities list stretches from coast to coast and north to south, and includes even a city surrounded by water.

New York City ranked number one with a near-perfect score of 4.56, followed by San Juan, Puerto Rico, Miami, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Representing the South in a surprisingly high finish is the city of Savannah with a score of 4.32 from the magazine's readers.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


East Coast Quake: Nuclear Reactors Taken Offline

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(LOUISA COUNTY, Va.) -- Two nuclear reactors were automatically taken offline when a significant earthquake rocked the Eastern Seaboard Tuesday, a Nuclear Regulatory Commission official said.

The pair of reactors at the North Anna Power Station are located in Louisa County, Va., approximately five miles from the epicenter of the 5.9 magnitude quake, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, but did not appear to suffer significant damage. The quake shook buildings in Washington, D.C., 100 miles to the north, and was felt as far away as Martha's Vineyard.

The quake was registered as an "unusual event" at the stations, the lowest of four emergency classifications. The plant's generators kicked in after a momentary loss of power and the plant currently has power, NRC spokesperson Elizabeth Stuckle said.

Teams are currently onsite to further assess any potential damage, another NRC official, Joey Ledford, said.

Nine other plants along the East Coast also declared an unusual event but none were shut down, Stuckle said.

Seismographs had been installed around the North Anna Power Station to detect earthquakes, but those were taken offline in the 1990s due to budget cuts, according to the state of Virginia website.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Ten Sailors Injured After Fire Aboard US Navy Ship

U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kenneth Abbate/Released(SAN DIEGO) -- Ten sailors were injured Wednesday afternoon after a fighter jet aboard a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier caught fire, according to the military.

The incident happened off the coast of California around 2:50 p.m. on the deck of the USS John C. Stennis.  The military said an F/A-18C Hornet was preparing to take off when its engine failed, causing it to go up in flames and injure ten sailors nearby.

The injured sailors were intially treated on the ship.  Four were flown out to Naval Medical Center San Diego where they were listed in stable condition.  The pilot of the jet was not harmed.

The ship suffered no significant damage.

An investigation is now underway to determine what caused the mishap.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Trace Amounts of Japan's Radioactive Fallout Found in US Rainwater

Michael Blann/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The damage at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan has had a residual effect felt all the way in the U.S., with rainwater here showing trace amounts of radiation.

It seems that the very lightly contaminated rain is turning up coast-to-coast, with radiation showing up in Nevada and other Western states and as far East as North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.

One of the radioactive by-products found in U.S. rain is in iodine-131, which briefly caused Japan to institute a ban on tap water in Tokyo and other prefectures.  However, there are no such worries here, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

In fact, the risk to the public is so low that the EPA says that Americans are exposed to far more radiation when they take an international airline flight.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Japan's Nuclear Crisis: US Safe From Radiation, Say Engineers

DigitalGlobe via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- As radiation levels continue to rise in Japan while engineers keep struggling with the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, many people in the U.S. are wondering if the danger could spread to American shores.

To those who might worry, nuclear engineers and meteorologists said the U.S., including Alaska and Hawaii, is safe.

"These releases from the plant, because they're not elevated, because they're not getting up high in the atmosphere, they won't travel very far," said Kathryn Higley, director of the department of nuclear engineering at Oregon State University.  "There are so many factors in our favor.  Rain will knock it down.  There are 5,000 miles of ocean between us and Japan.  It will be diluted, it will mix with sea spray, long before it gets remotely close to us."

The high-aititude winds over Japan are primarily out of the west, which is good news for Japan in a worst-case scenario if there were a large release of radiation into the air.

And in a worst-case scenario, where radioactive particles would be carried long-distance by upper-level winds, Edward Morse, a nuclear engineer at the University of California, Berkeley, told ABC News in an email that "we will get some fallout on the West Coast two to three days after its release in Japan."  He added that "the levels will not be threatening to life and health but they will be observable."

"If any radiation were to make it here, it would be merely background levels,"said Jere Jenkins, the director of Radiation Laboratories at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.  "Nothing for people on the West Coast or people in the United States to be concerned about."

Higley said she has been spending a lot of time over the last few days urging calm.

"We have monitoring capability here in the U.S. that is extraordinarily sensitive.  We can detect radiation that is like a hundred-thousandth of what you get from a regular X-ray, and we don't expect to see even that."

"For the stuff to travel, it has to be picked up by the wind," she said, "higher-level winds that have global distribution.  And that's just not happening.  This is a little like a campfire -- the smoke is all near the ground."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Radiation Exists Across US but Mostly Harmless, Experts Say (file photo of a Geiger counter)(NEW YORK) -- Despite U.S. consumers' growing awareness of iodide pills, Geiger counters and emergency kits in the wake of Japan's nuclear scare, most Americans have little to worry about, according to experts.

Radiation, they say, is all around us, even inside of us, and it's perfectly safe for the most part.

To illustrate the point, ABC News took a Geiger counter around New York City to test different objects and locations.  Even in the middle of Central Park, there was always a background level of radiation.  At a food stand in the park, a banana made the Geiger counter rise a little bit.  Bananas contain potassium, which people need to live, but is also radioactive.

Over at Grand Central Station, the meter on the Geiger counter moved a lot.  Grand Central was built with granite and marble, which are both radioactive.

Eric Hall, a nuclear researcher at Columbia University in New York City, said that the thousands of people who walk through Grand Central every day are not at risk of getting sick because the radioactivity around them comes in "very, very small" doses.

Another activity that exposes people to radiation is air travel.  In the course of a year, a flight crew flying between Tokyo and New York is exposed to 14 millisieverts of radiation.

In fact, every year, just walking around the planet, each individual is exposed to about 3.5 millisieverts of radiation.  That's about 67 chest X-rays, or 134 cross-country plane trips.

Here is a comparison of the radiation levels of everyday items and activities:

-- Banana: .0007 mSv
-- Pistachio: .001 mSv
-- Smoke Detector: .0029 mSv
-- Abdominal CT Scan: 10 mSv

Experts say even a full meltdown in Japan would be no reason for alarm in the United States.

"If any radiation were to make it here, it would be merely background levels and nothing for people on the West Coast or people in the United States to be concerned about," said Jere Jenkins, the director of Radiation Laboratories at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.

In order to get radiation sickness, a person would need to be exposed to at least 1,000 millisieverts of radiation at once.  For most people, a fatal dose is about five times that amount; a range of 3,500 to 5,000 mSv of radiation at once is deadly, which would be equivalent to spending 10 hours close to the  Fukushima Daiichi reactor.

To put that in perspective, the radiation levels at the scene of the fire at the nuclear plant in Japan have reached about 400 millisieverts per hour, meaning a person would have to be right there at the fire for two and a half hours to get sick.

Radiation workers have a limit of 50 mSv per year.  Workers who are reaching that limit are being pulled out now.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Nuclear Plants Safer than Those in Japanese Crisis, Industry Says

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- As experts in Japan race to stave off a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, the U.S. nuclear industry says a similar emergency is unlikely to happen in this country.

Even though 23 of the 104 nuclear reactors in the U.S. are of the same General Electric design as the Fukushima reactors causing the crisis in Japan, a nuclear industry spokesman said there are guidelines in the United States that would decrease the likelihood of such a disaster here.

"We think we're pretty well equipped," said Tony Pietrangelo, a spokesman for the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry lobbying group.  "We do plan for blackouts, earthquakes, and tsunamis.  Clearly what happened in Japan is well beyond what they were designed for.  It's highly unlikely but we have a station blackout rule to deal specifically with what happened in Japan.  We think we're pretty well equipped."

The 23 General Electric-designed reactors are more than 40 years old and are spread throughout the U.S., in cities such as Toms River, New Jersey; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; and Vernon, Vermont.  To generate electrical power, these nuclear reactors use a boiling water system known as a boiling water reactor.

These reactors continue to produce heat even after fission reactions have stopped.  Normally, water pumps are used to cool them, but the pumps are powered by electricity.

Following the tsunami caused by the 9.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Japan on Friday, the widespread loss of electricity meant emergency crews had to truck in sea water to cool the reactors.

At the Fukushima plants, 175 miles north of Tokyo, experts told ABC News Sunday that it appears evident that there has already been some damage at the core of one or more reactors.  If the reactors don't cool down soon, the world could experience another disaster on the scale of the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986.

"We're at tipping point," said Joe Cirincione, a nuclear security expert.  "In next 48 hours we will either see the reactors start to cool down, or these last-ditch efforts will fail and reactors will spin out of control and we will see meltdown at one or more [reactors].  Totally unprecedented."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio