Appendix J of 10 CFR 50, “Primary Reactor Containment Leakage Testing for Water-Cooled Power Reactors,” sets the testing requirements for preoperational and periodic verification of the leak-tight integrity of the primary reactor containment, including systems and components which penetrate containment of light water-cooled power reactors, and establishes the acceptance criteria for such tests. The purposes of the tests are to assure that leakage through the primary reactor containment and systems and components penetrating primary containment would not exceed allowable leakage rate values as specified in the plants’ technical specifications. The current Appendix J requirements provide two options for performing the tests. Option A (fully deterministic) requires that after the preoperational leakage rate tests, a set of three integrated leak rate tests (ILRT — termed as Type A tests) shall be performed, at approximately equal intervals during each 10-year service period. Option B does not provide a quantitative requirement for scheduling the periodic Type A tests. However, NEI 94-01, “Industry Guideline for Implementing Performance-Based Option of 10 CFR Part 50, Appendix J,” and NRC Regulatory Guide (RG). The containment is a vital engineering safety feature of a nuclear power plant. It encloses the entire reactor and reactor coolant system and serves as a final barrier against the release of radioactive fission products to the environment under various accident conditions. Containment design is based on pressure and temperature loadings associated with a loss-of-coolant-accident resulting from a double-ended rupture of the largest pipe in the reactor coolant system. Recently, it has been reported that in certain 1.163, “Performance-Based Containment Leak Test Program,” provide guidelines for determining the frequencies of preoperational and periodic leak rate tests using a performance based approach. The Option B requirements and NEI 94-01 guidance are based on NUREG-1493, “Performance Based Containment Leak-Test Program.” Based on the information provided by the operating data and their risk significance, the study calculated the change in risk (in person-rem) to public for the 15 alternatives considered in the study. However, recognizing the non-sensitivity of risk to change in Type A leak rate testing frequencies, as depicted in NUREG-1493, a number of licensees are proposing changes to their Type A test frequencies using NRC risk-informed guidance in RG 1.174, “An Approach for Using Probabilistic Risk Assessment in Risk-Informed Decisions on Plant-Specific Changes to the Licensing Basis.” The paper discusses certain key deterministic aspects of the risk-informed decision for the plant-specific changes in the ILRT frequencies.

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