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Title: In-service Inspection Ultrasonic Testing of Reactor Pressure Vessel Welds for Assessing Flaw Density and Size Distribution per 10 CFR 50.61a, Alternate Fracture Toughness Requirements

Pressurized thermal shock (PTS) events are system transients in a pressurized water reactor (PWR) in which there is a rapid operating temperature cool-down that results in cold vessel temperatures with or without repressurization of the vessel. The rapid cooling of the inside surface of the reactor pressure vessel (RPV) causes thermal stresses that can combine with stresses caused by high pressure. The aggregate effect of these stresses is an increase in the potential for fracture if a pre-existing flaw is present in a material susceptible to brittle failure. The ferritic, low alloy steel of the reactor vessel beltline adjacent to the core, where neutron radiation gradually embrittles the material over the lifetime of the plant, can be susceptible to brittle fracture. The PTS rule, described in the Code of Federal Regulations, Title 10, Section 50.61 (§50.61), “Fracture Toughness Requirements for Protection against Pressurized Thermal Shock Events,” adopted on July 23, 1985, establishes screening criteria to ensure that the potential for a reactor vessel to fail due to a PTS event is deemed to be acceptably low. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) completed a research program that concluded that the risk of through-wall cracking due to a PTS event ismore » much lower than previously estimated. The NRC subsequently developed a rule, §50.61a, published on January 4, 2010, entitled “Alternate Fracture Toughness Requirements for Protection Against Pressurized Thermal Shock Events” (75 FR 13). Use of the new rule by licensees is optional. The §50.61a rule differs from §50.61 in that it requires licensees who choose to follow this alternate method to analyze the results from periodic volumetric examinations required by the ASME Code, Section XI, Rules for Inservice Inspection (ISI) of Nuclear Power Plants. These analyses are intended to determine if the actual flaw density and size distribution in the licensee’s reactor vessel beltline welds are bounded by the flaw density and size distribution values used in the PTS technical basis. Under a contract with the NRC, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) has been working on a program to assess the ability of current inservice inspection (ISI)-ultrasonic testing (UT) techniques, as qualified through ASME Code, Appendix VIII, Supplements 4 and 6, to detect small fabrication or inservice-induced flaws located in RPV welds and adjacent base materials. As part of this effort, the investigators have pursued an evaluation, based on the available information, of the capability of UT to provide flaw density/distribution inputs for making RPV weld assessments in accordance with §50.61a. This paper presents the results of an evaluation of data from the 1993 Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant, Unit 3, Spirit of Appendix VIII reactor vessel examination, a comparison of the flaw density/distribution from this data with the distribution in §50.61a, possible reasons for differences, and plans and recommendations for further work in this area.« less
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Resource Relation:
Conference: Proceedings of the ASME Pressure Vessels and Piping Conference (PVP2011), July 17-21, 2011, Baltimore, Maryland, Paper No. PVP2011-58045
American Society of Mechanical Engineers, New York, NY, United States(US).
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US)
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Country of Publication:
United States
Inservice inspection; ultrasonic inspection; alloy 82/182; butt weld