Japan Quake - Media Up To Mischief

Edit - this blog entry is now out of date.  The complaint about 100 versus 1000 is now withdrawn.
Please see Japan's Nuclear Emergency - The Straight Goods - including comments - for updated information.

Original post below:

The media loves to abuse the deliciously ambiguous term up to.

Why do some reporters like to get hold of a range of values from a scientist or engineer and then quote the number at the scariest end of the range?

Some media sources are reporting radiation levels of 1000 times normal following a problem with Japan's Fukushima Number One plant.  Following the earthquake the pressure rose in a containment vessel.

The [Japanese Nuclear and Industrial Safety] agency says radiation levels have risen to up to about 100 times the normal figure in the central control room where the reactor's operators are working.

Since when does up to 100 translate into 1000 times?

Considering the margins of safety in the nuclear industry, up to 100 times normal is still not a scary, run-away-screaming scenario - although it is a matter for concern.

Source: NHK World

Edit / update:

No radiation leak has been detected

[Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano] said one of the reactors cannot be cooled down. He added that no radiation has leaked and the incident poses no danger to the environment at the moment.Prime Minister Naoto Kan declared the emergency even though no radiation leak has been detected after the magnitude 8.8 quake ...
Japan Times

No release of radiation has been detected

Vienna, 11 March 2011 (1245 CET) | The IAEA's Incident and Emergency Centre has received information from Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) that a heightened state of alert has been declared at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. NISA says the plant has been shut down and no release of radiation has been detected.
Earthquake and Tsunami Update

It seems the media will spin anything to make money.

World Media In Money-Making Plot, blogger claims.

... a monstrous earthquake like what they had can't be a light issue but at least we can keep opportunists from capitalizing on it and selling ridiculous 'end of the world' books.
Hank Campbell