Structural integrity of the reactor pressure vessel is a critical element in demonstrating the capability of light water reactors for operation to at least 80 y. The Light Water Reactor Sustainability Program Plan is a collaborative program between the U.S. Department of Energy and the private sector directed at extending the life of the present generation of nuclear power plants to enable such long-time operation. Given that the current generation of light water reactors were intended to operate for 40 y, there are significant issues that need to be addressed to reduce the uncertainties in regulatory application. The neutron dose to the vessel will at least double, and the database for such high dose levels under the low flux conditions in the vessel is nonexistent. Associated with this factor are uncertainties regarding flux effects, effects of relatively high nickel content, uncertainties regarding application of fracture mechanics, thermal annealing and reirradiation. The issue of high neutron fluence/long irradiation times and flux effects is the highest priority. Both data and mechanistic understanding are needed to enable accurate, reliable embrittlement predictions at high fluences. This paper discusses the major issues associated with long-time operation of existing RPVs, the LWRSP plans to address those issues, and recent relevant results.

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