Environmentally Assisted Fatigue (EAF) is receiving nowadays an increased level of attention for existing Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs) as utilities are now working to extend their life. In the wake of numerous experimental fatigue tests carried out in air and also in a PWR environment, the French RCC-M code [1] has recently been amended (in its 2016 edition) with two Rules in Probatory Phase (RPP), equivalent to ASME code-cases, “RPP-2” and “RPP-3” [2] [3]. RPP-2 consists of an update of the design fatigue curve in air for stainless steels (SSs) and nickel-based alloys, and is also associated with RPP-3 which provides guidelines for incorporating the environmental penalty “Fen” factor in fatigue usage factor calculations.

Alongside this codification effort, an EAF screening has recently been carried out within EDF DT [4] on various areas of the primary circuit of the 900 MWe plants of the EDF fleet. This screening led to the identification of a list of 35 “sentinel locations” which are defined as areas most prone to EAF degradation process. These locations will be subjected to detailed EAF analysis in the stress report calculations (according to the above-mentioned RCC-M code cases) for the fourth decennial inspection of the 900 MWe (VD4 900 MWe) power plants.

The potential impact of EAF on the secondary circuit components is another question to address in anticipation of the VD4 900 MWe, as they may be considered as class 1 or class 2 equipment for RCC-M application according to the equipment specification. This paper presents the approach proposed by EDF towards an exemption of environmental effects consideration for secondary circuit components. The argument is first based on a review of experimental campaigns led in Japan and France (respectively on fatigue test specimens and at the component scale) which indicate a Dissolved Oxygen (DO) content threshold below which environmental effects are almost inexistent. The (conservative) value of 40 ppb has been selected consistently with NUREG/CR-6909 revision 0 [5]. The second part of the argument is built, on the one hand, on the analysis of the EDF Technical Specifications for Operation (STE) which narrows the scope of the study only to unit outages, and, on the other hand, on the analysis of 5 years of operations of all 900 MWe plants of the EDF fleet (equivalent to 170 reactor-years). It has been shown that the DO content rarely exceeded the 40 ppb threshold in the secondary coolant, and that in this case, the considered locations were not submitted to any fatigue loading.

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