Tohuku Electric Power Co has announced plans to extend the Higashidori 1 fuel cycle from 13 to 16 months. The move will make it the first Japanese nuclear power plant to extend its fuel cycle since a revised law was introduced in Japan two years ago. Although the law allows fuel cycles of 18 months, the utility said it will not aim for that duration initially.

Japan’s nuclear power plants were an average of six and a half months shorter than US nuclear power plants in 2005, according to data from Tadahisa Nagata of the Japan Nuclear Technology Institute.

The extended runtime will be backed up by the implementation of a new inspection system. Favourable inspection results can extend the fuel cycle up to 24 months after five years of operation with an extended fuel cycle.

The unit entered a periodic inspection on 31 September and will remain shut down until the end of January.

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