The difference between Chernobyl and what is currently happening in Japan
OK first, let's get one term out of the way: TEPCO=Tokyo Electric Power Company.
That being said, here is the deal from a science junkie:
TEPCO pulled some large screw ups. The Soviets pulled some huge screw ups. I shall post a longer analysis once we know better what is going on but what TEPCO did was not even in the same league as what the Soviets did. Time will tell on this.
Right now, the real difference is that TEPCO is dealing with a potentially huge disaster. It may get much worse. In fact, it probably will. Bad things will happen that have not already.
Now, as it stands, TEPCO has called for nuclear engineers and reactor staff from around the world to help them get this situation under control.
What needs to happen on an hour by hour basis is to let TEPCO get their game on. Anything other can only make people who do not know what is going on panic. None of which will have any bearing on TEPCO doing what needs to happen.
You can try to buy potassium iodide pills. However, the people who are right there need them far more than you do. Trying to protect yourself from that much puts people at much greater risk than you at greater risk because they can't get them.
Seriously, let TEPCO do what they can.
The worst case from this is that the US dairy/beef industry will shut down for a few months.
Feel free to spread this around to as many blogs as possible.