The Fukushima No. 1 power plant's continued pollution of the Pacific is fueling growing domestic and international concern about radiation hazards, clouding plans by utilities and the government to quickly restart a dozen reactors.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority's decision to raise the severity assessment of a tank leak Wednesday to level 3 ("serious incident") on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event scale comes over a month after Tokyo Electric Power Co. admitted radioactive groundwater under crippled Fukushima No. 1 power plant is flowing to the Pacific Ocean, and six weeks after applications were filed to restart reactors in Hokkaido, Fukui, Ehime, Saga, and Fukui prefectures under new safety standards.

But there is something of an east-west divide among regional governments as to the wisdom of restarting the reactors. On Wednesday, Fukushima Gov. Yuhei Sato called on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government to declare a national state of emergency over the water leaks.