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Disaster in Japan reaches campus

On March 11, a magnitude-8.9 earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck the northeast coast of Japan.

With aftershock tremors felt for days following the natural disaster, a new threat developed when reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant were in danger of overheating after their cooling systems were damaged during the earthquake and ensuing tsunami.

The series of events affected not only Japan, but the entire world – the earthquake slightly tilted the earth’s axis and moved Japan 13 feet closer to the U.S., according to the New York Times. The Oracle takes a look at how Japan, the U.S. and USF have felt the effects of the disaster.

How Japan is affected:

According to Reuters, Japan’s Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Tetsuro Fukuyama said the reactors at the nuclear power plant “are showing some improvement, but the situation remains uncertain.”

With the official death toll currently at 8,450, an additional 12,931 missing and 15,000 feared dead in the Miyaga prefecture according to Reuters, the magnitude of the damage to Japan’s people remains uncertain.

Reuters reported that tests detected radiation above the Japanese national safety level in spinach and milk produced near the Fukushima plant and a sample of tap water from Tokyo was radioactive.

While those in Japan living in or near the quake zone have had to live in the midst of the disaster, those in central Japan have also reported tremors.

How the U.S. is affected:

According to the Times, faint traces of radiation from a long radioactive plume originating from the Fukushima power plant have been detected in Sacramento, Calif.

However, the radiation had been greatly diluted in its journey across the ocean, according to the Times, and had only very low concentrations.

According to USA Today, U.S. Customs agents “stepped up monitoring of planes and passengers arriving from Japan … as part of (their) policy of checking all incoming flights for radiation (Thursday).”

A small amount of radiation was also found in cargo arriving from Japan to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, the article said. The Customs and Border Protection agency “stresses that dangerous radiation levels have not been detected at any U.S. airport,” according to USA Today.

How USF is affected:

According to a USF news release, six USF exchange students studying at Kansai Gaidai University are returning to the U.S. The decision to bring the students back to USF, which was announced by USF President Judy Genshaft during a Board of Trustees meeting Thursday, is a result of a travel warning issued by the U.S. State Department.

The students were located in Hirakata, about 500 miles from where the earthquake and tsunami struck northeast Japan. The release said travel arrangements had not yet been made and details on their arrival in the U.S. were not available as of Thursday.

On campus, two international students from Japan, Yumi Fujisawa and Hiroki Suenaga, have begun developing programs to help USF students donate to relief efforts for the affected areas.

Amanda Gilmer, USF World marketing and communications officer, said in an email that Fujisawa and Suenaga are “trying to help here on campus” by educating students on how they can give back and have received ideas on how to do so.

“The Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement sent them some ideas,” Gilmer stated. “And (Wednesday) we received information on some other ways to help through Twitter and Facebook from the Association of International Education Administrators.”

Some of those examples included making donations through websites such as the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, Facebook, Twitter and iTunes.