The leak-before-break (LBB) assessment of pressure tubes is intended to demonstrate that in the event of through-wall cracking of the tube, there will be sufficient time followed by the leak detection, for a controlled shutdown of the reactor prior to the rupture of the pressure tube. CSA Standard N285.8 (2005, “Technical Requirements for In-Service Evaluation of Zirconium Alloy Pressure Tubes in CANDU Reactors,” Canadian Standards Association) has specified deterministic and probabilistic methods for LBB assessment. Although the deterministic method is simple, the associated degree of conservatism is not quantified and it does not provide a risk-informed basis for the fitness for service assessment. On the other hand, full probabilistic methods based on simulations require excessive amount of information and computation time, making them impractical for routine LBB assessment work. This paper presents an innovative, semiprobabilistic method that bridges the gap between a simple deterministic analysis and complex simulations. In the proposed method, a deterministic criterion of CSA Standard N285.8 is calibrated to specified target probabilities of pressure tube rupture based on the concept of partial factors. This paper also highlights the conservatism associated with the current CSA Standard. The main advantage of the proposed approach is that it retains the simplicity of the deterministic method, yet it provides a practical, risk-informed basis for LBB assessment.

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