Neutron irradiation embrittlement of reactor pressure vessel steels (RPVs) is one of the important material ageing issues. In Japan, almost 40 years have past since the first plant started its commercial operation, and several plants are expected to become beyond 40 years old in the near future. Thus, the safe operation based on the appropriate recognition of the neutron irradiation embrittlement is inevitable to ensure the structural integrity of RPVs. The amount of the neutron irradiation embrittlement of RPV steels has been monitored and predicted by the complementally use of surveillance program and embrittlement correlation method. Recent surveillance data suggest some discrepancies between the measurements and predictions of the embrittlement in some old BWR RPV steels with high impurity content. Some discrepancies of PWR RPV surveillance data from the predictions have also been recognized in the embrittlement trend. Although such discrepancies are basically within a scatter band, the increasing necessity of the improvement of the predictive capability of the embrittlement correlation method has been emphasized to be prepared for the future long term operation. Regarding the surveillance program, on the other hand, only one original surveillance capsule, except for the reloaded capsules containing Charpy broken halves, is available in some BWR plants. This situation strongly pushed establishing a new code for a new surveillance program, where the use of the reloading and reconstitution of the tested specimens is specified. The Japan Electric Association Code, JEAC 4201–2007 “Method of Surveillance Tests for Structural Materials of Nuclear Reactors,” was revised in December, 2007, in order to address these issues. A new mechanism-guided embrittlement correlation method was adopted. The surveillance program was modified for the long term operation of nuclear plants by introducing the “long-term surveillance program”, which is to be applied for the operation beyond 40 years. The use of the reloading, re-irradiation and reconstitution of the tested Charpy/fracture toughness specimens is also specified in the new revision. This paper reports the application and practice of the JEAC4201–2007 in terms of the prediction of embrittlement and the use of tested surveillance specimens in Japan.

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