One of the Nuclear Regulation Authority's commissioners said that boiling-water reactors will not be allowed to resume operation unless they are equipped with filtered venting systems that can reduce the amount of radioactive particulates ejected during emergency venting.

Of Japan's 50 commercial reactors, 26 are BWRs, the same as the ones that suffered meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant disaster. Most have venting systems but are unfiltered. "Without (filtering systems), the reactors will not reach the level" needed to operate, NRA Commissioner Toyoshi Fuketa said Thursday.

Fuketa's remarks suggest the resumption of BWR reactors could be delayed by the time needed to install filtering systems. The NRA's new safety standards are expected to take effect in July, opening the door for utilities to apply for permits allowing their idled reactors to go back online.

But Fuketa said he expects "a substantial number" of reactors to take "two or three years until they will be able to line up in the examination room." He also hinted that some of the units may not pass the new criteria, leaving no option but to scrap them.