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Engineers Unveil 1st US Tsunami Building Standards In Portland


In this June 6, 2012, file photo, a man looks at the tsunami dock that washed ashore on Agate Beach in Newport, Oregon.

In this June 6, 2012, file photo, a man looks at the tsunami dock that washed ashore on Agate Beach in Newport, Oregon.

Rick Bowmer/AP

When constructing a building to cope with forces like wind shear, engineers follow national standards. But until now, the U.S. had no such standard for tsunamis.

The American Society of Civil Engineers on Wednesday told builders what forces to expect from tsunamis, like floating shipping containers washing into a building at 25 miles per hour.

Professor Daniel Cox at Oregon State University’s school of civil engineering said he’s “thrilled” with the new standards.

“Now we have a process for design that’s consistent with all our other standards, so wind loading, earthquake loading, flood loading,” Cox said.  “These standards have been around a long time and the tsunami standards are coming up to speed with the rest of the hazard standards.”

About 3.5 million Americans live at risk of a tsunami, including many along the Oregon coast.

States can choose whether to adopt the new standards or tweak them for local conditions.

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