The methodology discussed in this paper provides a risk informed basis for decreasing the frequency of inspection for the Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR) reactor pressure vessel (RPV). The decrease in frequency is based on extending the interval between inspections from the current interval of 10 years to 20 years. Results of pilot studies on typical designs of PWR vessels show that the change in risk associated with extending the inspection interval by more than 10 years is within the guidelines specified in U.S. Regulatory Guide 1.174 for insignificant change in risk. The current requirements for inspection of reactor vessel pressure-containing welds have been in effect since the 1989 Edition of American Society of Mechanical Engineers Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code, Section XI, supplemented by U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Regulatory Guide 1.150, June 1981. The manner in which these examinations are conducted has recently been augmented by Appendix VIII of Section XI, 1996 Addenda, as implemented by the NRC in amendment to 10CFR50.55a effective November 22, 1999. This paper summarizes the insignificant change in risk results for the PWR pilot-plant studies, including the effects of fatigue crack growth and in-service inspection of postulated surface-breaking flaws. These results demonstrate that the proposed RPV inspection interval extension is a viable option for the industry.

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