Technical requirements for analytical evaluation of in-service Zr-2.5Nb pressure tubes in CANDU(1) reactors are provided in the Canadian Standards Associate (CSA) N285.8. The evaluation must address all in-service degradation mechanisms including the presence of in-service flaws. Flaws found during in-service inspection of CANDU Zr-2.5Nb pressure tubes, including fuel bundle scratches, debris fretting flaws, fuel bundle bearing pad fretting flaws, dummy bundle bearing pad fretting flaws, erosion-shot flaws and crevice corrosion flaws, are volumetric and blunt in nature. These in-service flaws can become crack initiation sites during pressure tube operation and potentially lead to pressure tube failure. Any detected flaws that do not satisfy the criteria of acceptance as per CSA N285.4 must be analytically evaluated to justify continued operation of the pressure tube. Moreover, the risk of pressure tube failure due to presence of in-service flaws in the entire reactor core must be assessed.
A review of assessment of the risk of pressure tube failure due to presence of in-service flaws in CANDU reactor core is provided in this paper. The review covers the technical requirements in the CSA N285.8 for evaluating degradation mechanisms related to flaws in the reactor core. Current Canadian industry practice of probabilistic assessment of reactor core for pressure tube failure due to presence of in-service flaws is described, including evaluation of flaws for crack initiation, subsequent crack growth to through-wall penetration, and pressure tube rupture due to unstable crack growth prior to safe shutdown of the reactor. Operating experience with the application of probabilistic assessment of reactor core for the risk of pressure tube failure due to presence of in-service flaws is also provided.