The Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) performed a detailed technical review of the 2015 Electrabel (EBL) Safety Cases prepared for the Belgium reactor pressure vessels (RPVs) at Doel 3 and Tihange 2 (D3/T2). The Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC) in Belgium commissioned ORNL to provide a thorough assessment of the existing safety margins against cracking of the RPVs due to the presence of almost laminar flaws found in each RPV. Initial efforts focused on surveying relevant literature that provided necessary background knowledge on the issues related to the quasi-laminar flaws observed in D3/T2 reactors. Next, ORNL proceeded to develop an independent quantitative assessment of the entire flaw population in the two Belgian reactors according to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code, Section XI, Appendix G, “Fracture Toughness Criteria for Protection Against Failure,” New York (both 1992 and 2004 versions). That screening assessment of the EBL-characterized flaws in D3/T2 used ORNL tools, methodologies, and the ASME Code Case N-848, “Alternative Characterization Rules for Quasi-Laminar Flaws”.

Results and conclusions derived from comparisons of the ORNL flaw acceptance assessments of D3/T2 with those from the 2015 EBL Safety Cases are presented in the paper. The ORNL screening analyses identified fewer flaws than EBL that were not compliant with the ASME Section XI (1992) criterion; the EBL criterion imposed additional conservatisms not included in ASME Section XI. Furthermore, ORNL’s application of the updated ASME Section XI (2004) criterion produced only four non-compliant flaws, all due to design-basis loss-of-coolant loading transients. Among the latter, only one flaw remained non-compliant when analyzed using the warm-prestress (WPS) cleavage fracture model typically applied in USA flaw assessments. ORNL’s independent refined analysis of that flaw (#1660, which was also non-compliant in the EBL screening assessments) rendered it compliant when modeled as a more realistic individual quasi-laminar flaw using a 3-dimensional XFEM (eXtended Finite Element Method) approach available in the ABAQUS© finite element code. Taken as a whole, the ORNL-specific results and conclusions confirmed the structural integrity of Doel 3 and Tihange 2 under all design transients with ample margin in the presence of the 16,196 detected flaws.

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