Power companies in Japan are seeking to restart 10 reactors in the hope of cutting their fuel costs in a move that could potentially pave the way for a widespread return to nuclear power.

Four nuclear operators – Hokkaido Electric, Kansai Electric, Shikoku Electric and Kyushu Electric – have applied to the Nuclear Regulation Authority for safety assessments on a total of 10 reactors at five plants.

Fuel costs have soared since all but two reactors were shut down after the earthquake and tsunami that crippled the Fukushima plant, prompting operators to revert to thermal power generation, reports Kyodo News.

“We believe the reactor satisfies the state’s standards,” an official from Shikoku Electric Power told reporters.

But none of the reactors is likely to be restarted anytime soon, according to the NRA, saying it will take at least six months to review each reactor.

New rules introduced following the Fukushima disaster require nuclear operators to put in place better safety standards.

NRA chairman Shunichi Tanaka said bringing safety standards to international norms “would take a long time”.