In March of 2002, significant corrosion of the Davis-Besse reactor head was discovered. The Davis-Besse reactor head is of standard construction, composed of low alloy steel and clad with stainless steel. Alloy 600 control rod nozzles penetrate the reactor head, attached with J-groove welds. During an ultrasonic inspection, three of these nozzles were found to have through-wall cracks induced by Primary Water Stress Corrosion Cracking (PWSCC). Undiscovered leakage of borated water over the course of several operating cycles from one of these nozzles led to localized cooling and wastage of the reactor head near the nozzle. This leakage, less than 0.2 gpm (0.8 l/min), was small in comparison to allowable unidentified leakage, but larger than typical PWSCC leakage. The greatest damage to the low alloy steel reactor pressure vessel head was an oblong cavity, approximately 7 × 5 inches (18 × 13 cm), penetrating to the stainless steel cladding. The cracks in this nozzle were axially oriented, which would previously have been considered low risk because they would not have caused control rod ejection. However, the damage led to an increase in risk of a loss of coolant accident, prolonged loss of generation, and replacement of the reactor pressure vessel head. In addition to the industry wide regulatory impact of this event, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has indicated that there may be a need to revise the inservice inspection requirements in Section XI of the ASME Code. This paper provides a brief synopsis of PWSCC in Control Rod Drive Mechanism nozzles, describes the inspection activities that led to the discovery of both the cracking and the corrosion, and describes the extent and technical cause of the damage. Management and human performance issues that allowed the damage to progress to an advanced state are discussed, since this event would not have been noteworthy if administrative controls and programs had been properly implemented.

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