The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (USNRC) has conducted research since 1977 in the areas of environmentally assisted cracking and assessment and reliability of non-destructive examination (NDE). Recent occurrences of cracking in Alloy 82/182 welds and Alloy 600 base metal at several domestic and overseas plants have raised several issues relating to both of these areas of NRC research. The occurrences of cracking were identified by the discovery of boric acid deposits resulting from through-wall cracking in the primary system pressure boundary. Analyses indicate that the cracking has occurred due to primary water stress corrosion cracking (PWSCC) in Alloy 82/182 welds. This cracking has occurred in two different locations: in hot leg nozzle-to-safe end welds and in control rod drive mechanism (CRDM) nozzle welds. The cracking associated with safe-end welds is important due to the potential for a large loss of reactor coolant inventory, and the cracking of CRDM nozzle base metal and welds, particularly circumferential cracking of CRDM nozzle base metal, is important due to the potential for a control rod to eject resulting in a loss of coolant accident. The industry response in the U.S. to this cracking is being coordinated through the Electric Power Research Institute’s Materials Reliability Project (EPRI-MRP) in a comprehensive, multifaceted effort. Although the industry program is addressing many of the issues raised by these cracking occurrences, confirmatory research is necessary for the staff to evaluate the work conducted by industry groups. Several issues requiring additional consideration regarding the generic implications of these isolated events have been identified. This paper will discuss the recent events of significant cracking in domestic and foreign plants, discuss the limitations of NDE in detecting SCC, identify deficiencies in information available in this area, discuss the USNRC approach to address these issues, and discuss the development of an international cooperative effort.

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