United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Fabrication Flaw Density and Distribution in Repairs to Reactor Pressure Vessel and Piping Welds (NUREG/CR-6945)

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: July 2007
Date Published: April 2008

Prepared by:
G.J. Schuster, F.A. Simonen, S.R. Doctor

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
P.O. Box 999
Richland, WA 99352

W.E. Norris, NRC Project Manager

Prepared for:
Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001

NRC Job Code N6398

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The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is developing a generalized fabrication flaw distribution for the population of nuclear reactor pressure vessels and for piping welds in U.S. operating reactors. The purpose of the generalized flaw distribution is to predict component-specific flaw densities. The estimates of fabrication flaws are intended for use in fracture mechanics structural integrity assessments. Structural integrity assessments, such as estimating the frequency of loss-of-coolant accidents, are performed by computer codes that require, as input, accurate estimates of flaw densities. Welds from four different reactor pressure vessels and a collection of archived pipes have been studied to develop empirical estimates of fabrication flaw densities.

This report describes the fabrication flaw distribution and characterization in the repair weld metal of vessels and piping. This work indicates that large flaws occur in these repairs. These results show that repair flaws are complex in composition and sometimes include cracks on the ends of the repair cavities. Parametric analysis using an exponential fit is performed on the data.

The relevance of construction records is established for describing fabrication processes and product forms. An analysis of these records shows there was a significant change in repair frequency over the years when these components were fabricated. A description of repair flaw morphology is provided with a discussion of fracture mechanics significance. Fabrication flaws in repairs are characterized using optimized-access, high-sensitivity nondestructive ultrasonic testing. Flaw characterizations are then validated by other nondestructive evaluation techniques and complemented by destructive testing.

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