The Atucha II nuclear power plant is a unique pressurized heavy water reactor (PHWR) being constructed in Argentina. The original plant design was by Kraftwerk Union (KWU) in the 1970’s using the German methodology of break preclusion. The plant construction was halted for several decades, but a recent need for power was the driver for restarting the construction. The US NRC developed leak-before-break (LBB) procedures in draft Standard Review Plan (SRP) 3.6.3 for the purpose of eliminating the need to design for dynamic effects that allowed the elimination of pipe whip restraints and jet impingement shields. This SRP was originally written in 1987 with a modest revision in 2005. The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (US NRC) is currently developing a draft Regulatory Guide on what is called the Transition Break Size (TBS). However, modeling crack pipe response in large complex primary piping systems under seismic loading is a difficult analysis challenge due to many factors. The initial published work on the seismic evaluations for the Atucha II plant showed that even with a seismic event with the amplitudes corresponding to the amplitudes for an event with a probability of 1e−6 per year, that a Double-Ended Guillotine Break (DEGB) was pragmatically impossible due to the incredibly high leakage rates and total loss of make-up water inventory. The critical circumferential through-wall flaw size in that case was 94-percent of the circumference.
This paper discusses further efforts to show how much higher the applied accelerations would have to be to cause a DEGB for an initial circumferential through-wall crack that was 33 percent around the circumference. This flaw length would also be easily detected by leakage and loss of make-up water inventory. These analyses showed that the applied seismic peak-ground accelerations had to exceed 25 g’s for the case of this through-wall-crack to become a DEGB during a single seismic loading event. This is a factor of 80 times higher than the 1e−6 seismic event accelerations, or 240 times higher than the safe shutdown earthquake (SSE) accelerations.