I'm going to assume that y'all, like me, have prayers and money support going to Japan already, and won't be nagging about that.
But, holy shit, the situation there keeps going and going and going. Earthquake, tsunami, reactor problem, more earthquakes, more reactor problems, more reactor problems, more earthquakes, more reactor problems. And I do NOT think that the reactor folks are telling anyone the whole truth, and I do NOT think that the Japanese Govt is telling us all the partial truths that the reactor folks are telling them.
That point in the news conference from the Japanese govt a few days ago, when, after the Prime Minister did his dance and some other govt minister (energy or nuclear) was being questioned ... he was asked if the Japanese Govt had called in IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) experts for help. His reply - he didn't know! WTF? The Japanese press being well-behaved lap-dogs, they didn't press on the issue. Holy MFing Shit!
Even the usually very diplomatic IAEA is saying that the Japanese are holding back info http://www.sify.com/news/iaea-wants-faster-information-from-japan-news-international-ldqhafhhaig.html .
Yes, 'it's not Chernobyl' in that the core is not flamable, no graphite involved. HOWEVER - the containment buildings are breached at the #2 and #3 reactors, the stored used rods are exposed (and not at ALL contained) at the #4 reactor, #1 has known issues but not known breaches, #5 & #6 have temperatures rising. They had to pull the poor schmucks still there trying to get the place under control for a while due to the radiation leaks. They couldn't bring in helicopters to drop water or sandbags because of the excessive radiation leaks.
Oh, but with prevailing western winds (as if the wind is ALWAYS from the west?), 'most' of the radiation will 'harmlessly' go out into the Pacific. Where the cesium will be taken up by the algae and seaweed, and from there into the oceanic food chain. Will it reach the US, contaminating US crops? The same experts who said that this wouldn't happen at all say no. Remember, if it DOES get here, it's going to include not just cesium (nasty nasty nasty stuff), but radioactive iodine and strontium as well.
Do I have a horse in this race? Of course. My husband is older than I am. He was part of the generation where doctors 'treated' enlarged tonsils by irradiating. Yes, it shrank the tonsils. His generation also has an incredibly high thyroid cancer rate in those who have had this treatment. The Chubby Hubby had this done, and has had most of his thyroid removed due to pre-cancerous nodules already.
It's too late for anyone to order potassium iodide pills - they got snapped up fast this last weekend, and resellers are charging a HUGH amount now. There are rumors, with no sources cited, that the US govt has bought up all that manufactures had in reserve and all currently being produced. Skin application of liquid iodine, like my mom used to use for splinters, would still top off the iodine supply of the thyroid, preventing accumulation of radioactive isotopes.
It's not clear that there is anything that can be done to prevent problems from cesium and strontium in the food chain, other than not eating exposed foods. How would we keep them out of the food chain? Dunno. Strontium will mostly accumulate in milk products if it makes it here (?and maybe in bones of small fish then larger fish? like sardines, then canned small salmon and mackerel? all in the Pacific ocean?) because it's in the same family as calcium. Cesium will be in plants, it being in the potassium elemental family, but is usually a bigger problem from skin exposure - that part will probably only be an issue in Japan.
This all sucks, mostly for Japan, but for the world in general.