Water-cooled (i.e. most) nuclear power plants have to be near a large body of water, and there really isn't anywhere in Japan that is beyond the reach of a major earthquake. I am just surprised that backup generators were located low enough that they could get flooded. Apparently the plant was designed to withstand only a 20 foot tsunami, or something like that. The wave that hit was over double that in height. Who was it who decided that a 50 foot tsunami was so improbable that the trouble and cost involved in building a better tsunami wall and placing backup generators high off the ground was not worth it? Those are the people who should be sent into the radiation field to fix the thing. Was it really worth losing the plant entirely and creating all this contamination and exposure to plant workers to be cheap and gamble with mother nature?
I also cannot believe that there was not a powerless emergency cooling system that works by convection. Having to rely on electricity for emergency cooling is a bonehead design move. It seems like this plant was disastrously under-engineered.