21 Mars 2012
March 19, 2012
The tsunami that hit the Pacific coastline within what is now the no-go zone around the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant topped 21 meters, researchers have found.
A team of researchers headed by University of Tokyo professor Shinji Sato and the Fukushima Prefectural Government found that up to 21.1 meters of tsunami had struck the coastal areas within a 20-kilometer radius from the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant on March 11, 2011.
The finding came one year after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami struck, as the 20-kilometer nuclear exclusion zone had hampered researchers from conducting a field survey there.
Clad in protective gear, the researchers entered the no-go zone on Feb. 6 and 7 this year, covering 28 locations along a 40-kilometer coastal stretch from Minamisoma to Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture.
After examining the traces of tsunami left on window glass and roof tiles, researchers found that a 21.1-meter-high tsunami had hit the Kobama district of Tomioka, Fukushima Prefecture, located between the Fukushima No. 1 and No. 2 nuclear plants; followed by a 16.5-meter-high tsunami that attacked the town of Futaba; and tsunami 15.5 meters high in Namie and 12.2 meters high in Minamisoma and Okuma. Overall the tsunami topped 10 meters high at a total of 16 locations.
Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) had previously estimated that the tsunami that hit the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, straddling Futaba and Okuma, had reached 14 to 15 meters high.
Researchers also found that there were only a few locations in Fukushima Prefecture outside the exclusion zone that had been hit by tsunami topping 10 meters high -- a result that underscores the fact that the Fukushima No. 1 and No. 2 nuclear plants were located among the most severely hit zones.
"It is likely that the waves were easy to gather (around the nuclear plants) because the shores there are arching out into the sea," said professor Sato, explaining why high waves attacked the no-go zone.