United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Bulletin 79-03A: Longitudinal Weld Defects in ASME SA-312, Type 304 Stainless Steel Pipe

                                                            SSINS No: 6820 
                                                            Accession No.: 

                                UNITED STATES
                           WASHINGTON, D.C. 20555 

                               April 4, 1980  

                                                   IE Bulletin No. 79-03A 


Description of Circumstances: 

IE Bulletin No. 79-03 required the licensee to determine if ASME SA-312, 
Type 304 pipe manufactured by Youngstown Welding and Engineering Company is 
in use or planned for use in safety-related systems. Since the issuance of 
IE Bulletin 79-03 on March 12, 1979, subsequent findings indicate additional
information and clarification is needed to resolve the SA-312 issue. 

It has been determined that conventional ultrasonic testing (UT) and radio-
graphic testing (RT) techniques (as required by ASME Section III) are not 
adequate to detect centerline lack of weld penetration (CLP). Conventional 
radiography and UT examinations may detect the presence of CLP under special
conditions, but neither can be considered reliable enough to detect CLP even
when significant percentages exist. 

Based upon the above and previous findings during inspections at Youngstown 
it has been determined that the Youngstown Welding and Engineering Company 
did comply with the ASME Code requirements, but that the Code NDE 
requirements are deficient. Consequently any manufacturers' SA-312, Type 300
Series, austenitic stainless steel fusion welds may contain undetected CLP. 
This problem is generic to all welded SA-312/A-312 material and is not 
restricted to material manufactured by the Youngstown Welding and 
Engineering Company. 

The NRC has verified that the CLP condition also exists in the SA-312 and/or
A-312 fusion welded pipe manufactured by ARMCO's Advanced Materials 
Division, the SWEPCO Tube Corporation and Crucible's Trent Tube Division. 
These companies are known to have supplied SA-312 and/or A-312 material for 
nuclear applications and are, now included within the scope of this 

Several Licensee's responses to the IE Bulletin 79-03 were inadequate. The 
responses were inadequate because they were based on the purchase order NDE 
requirements rather than the information requested in the Bulletin. An 
actual example of an inadequate response was as follows: Radiography of a 
circum-ferential weld seam revealed CLP in the longitudinal seam of a 
section of SWEPCO fusion welded pipe. The licensee did not believe the case 
was reportable if the original NDE requirements for the SWEPCO pipe did not 
require volumetric examination. 

This CLP problem is considered by the NRC to be a significant deficiency 
which requires extensive evaluation and could result in repair or 
replacement of pipe and/or fittings. 

IE Bulletin No. 79-03A                                      April 4, 1980  
                                                            Page 2 of 3 

The information requested in this revised Bulletin is to be provided without
regard to the purchase order NDE requirements or any subsequent NDE 
performed for or by the licensee. The information requests in this Bulletin 
supersede the requests for information in the IE Bulletin 79-03. 

The NRC staff position on this issue and any other case where defects or 
deficiencies are discovered in safety-related components is as follows: 
Regardless of the circumstances under which potential deficiencies or 
potential defects in safety-related components are discovered the matter 
shall be identified, evaluated, dispositioned documented and reported in 
strict accordance with the appropriate Federal Regulations. Although the 
ASME Code rules and requirements may be used when appropriate to evaluate 
defects or deficiencies and to justify and accept the existence of a defect 
or deficiencies, the Code can not be used as justification for not reporting
the defect, deficiency and circumstances to the NRC when that defect or 
deficiency has been identified by the NRC as a potential generic problem. 
When the licensee, his agent or vendor discovers a defect or deficiency that
may be a generic problem or a significant lone deficiency a conservative 
position shall be adopted regarding the reporting of the situation to the 

For those power reactor facilities that have the subject pipe installed the 
action identified in this Bulletin is limited to identifying the specific 
applications and providing information related to the structural integrity 
of the piping components. Additional guidance related to NDE's and/or 
precau-tionary or corrective actions will be provided in a later Bulletin 
revision if necessary. 

Revised action to be taken by Licensees and Permit Holders: 

For all power reactor facilities with an operating license or a construction

1.   Determine whether SA-312 or A-312, Type 300 Series fusion welded pipe 
     is in use or planned for use in safety-related systems subject to 
     design stresses greater than 85 percent of the Code allowable stresses. 
     For the purpose of this check the actual wall thickness of the piping 
     products will be considered adequate if the code requirements for 
     pressure design of the piping products are satisfied using 85 percent 
     of the maximum allowable stress at the design temperature. 

2.   For those piping components using greater than 85 percent of the 
     allowable stresses identify the application of the piping including the
     system, pipe location, pipe size, pipe configuration (elbow, tee), 
     design pressure/temperature requirements and the manufacturer. 

3.   For those facilities under construction and where access permits, the 
     ends of all safety-related SA-312 and A-312 fusion welds should be 
     etched to determine if CLP exists. Identify the manufactUrer and the 
     degree of CLP as a percentage of the pipe wall thickness. 

IE Bulletin No. 79-03A                                      April 4, 1980 
                                                            Page 3 of 3 

4.   For facilities with an operating license, a report of the above 
     information shall be submitted within 120 days of receipt of this 

5.   For facilities with a construction permit, a report of the above 
     information shall be submitted within 120 days of receipt of this 

Reports should be submitted to the Director of the appropriate NRC Regional 
Office and a copy should be forwarded to the NRC Office of Inspection and 
Enforcement, Division of Reactor Construction Inspection, Washington, D.C. 

Approved by GAO, B180225 (R0072); clearance expires 7/31/80. Approval was 
given under a blanket clearance specifically for identified generic 
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