An integrated probabilistic approach for the evaluation of the pressurized-thermal-shock (PTS) issue was developed at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) at the request of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The purpose was to provide a method for identifying dominant plant design and operating features, evaluating possible remedial measures and the validity of the NRC PTS screening criteria, and to provide an additional tool for estimating vessel life expectancy. The approach was to be integrated in the sense that it would include the postulation of transients; estimates of their frequencies of occurrence; systems analyses to obtain the corresponding primary-system pressure, downcomer coolant temperature, and fluid-film heat-transfer coefficient adjacent to the vessel wall; and a probabilistic fracture-mechanics analysis using the latter data as input. A summation of the products of frequency of transient and conditional probability of failure for all postulated transients provides an estimate of frequency of vessel failure. In the process of developing the integrated-pressurized-thermal-shock (IPTS) methodology, three specific-plant analyses were conducted. The results indicate that the NRC screening criteria may not be appropriate for all U.S. pressurized-water-reactor (PWR) plants; that is, for some PWRs, the calculated mean frequency of vessel failure corresponding to the screening criteria may be greater than the “primary-acceptance-criterion” value in Regulatory Guide 1.154. A recent review of the ORNL IPTS study, which was completed in 1985, indicates that there are a number of areas in which the methodology can and should be updated, but it is not clear whether the update will increase or decrease the calculated probabilities.

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