The Nuclear Regulation Authority officially approved Wednesday new safety requirements for reactors aimed at preventing disasters like the catastrophe at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.

The new regulations are expected to take effect July 8, paving the way for nuclear plant operators to apply for an NRA safety assessment as a step toward firing their reactors back up.

Four major utilities are likely to file for safety screening for as many as 12 reactors at six plants in the first month after the changes come into force, although it is unclear how long the process will take. Senior NRA officials said earlier it may take at least half a year.