The recent discoveries of cracked and leaking Alloy 600 vessel head penetration (VHP) nozzles, including control rod drive mechanism (CRDM) and thermocouple nozzles, at four pressurized water reactors (PWRs) have raised concerns about the structural integrity of VHP nozzles throughout the PWR industry. Nozzle cracking at Oconee Nuclear Station Unit 1 in November 2000 and Arkansas Nuclear One Unit 1 in February 2001 was limited to axial cracking, an occurrence deemed to be of limited safety concern in the NRC staff’s generic safety evaluation on the cracking of VHP nozzles dated November 19, 1993. However, the discovery of circumferential cracking at Oconee Nuclear Station Unit 3 in February 2001 and Oconee Nuclear Station Unit 2 in April 2001 particularly the large circumferential cracking identified in two CRDM nozzles at ONS3 has raised concerns about the potential safety implications and prevalence of cracking in VHP nozzles in PWRs. In response to the circumferential cracking identified at the Oconee units, the NRC issued Bulletin 2001–01, “Circumferential Cracking of Reactor Pressure Vessel Head Penetration Nozzles,” on August 3, 2001. This bulletin requests information from licensees related to the structural integrity of the reactor pressure VHP nozzles for their facilities, including the extent of VHP nozzle leakage and cracking that has been found to date, the inspections and repairs that have been undertaken to satisfy applicable regulatory requirements, future plans to inspect VHP nozzles, and a description of how future inspection plans will ensure compliance with applicable regulatory requirements. This paper summarizes the staff’s review and assessment of licensee responses to NRC Bulletin 2001–01.

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