This paper presents an improved model for postulating fabrication flaws in reactor pressure vessels (RPVs) and for the treatment of measured flaw data by probabilistic fracture mechanics (PFM) codes that are used for structural integrity evaluations. The model used to develop the current pressurized thermal shock (PTS) regulations conservatively postulated that all fabrication flaws were inner-surface breaking flaws. To reduce conservatisms and uncertainties in flaw-related inputs, the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (USNRC) has supported research at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) that has resulted in data on fabrication flaws from non-destructive and destructive examinations of actual RPV material. Statistical distributions have been developed to characterize the number and sizes of flaws in the various material regions of a vessel. The regions include the main seam welds, repair welds, base metal of plates and forgings, and the cladding that is applied to the inner surface of the vessel. Flaws are also characterized as being located within the interior of these regions or along the weld fusion lines that join the regions. Flaws are taken that occur at random locations relative to the embrittled inner region of the vessel. The probabilistic fracture mechanics model associates each of the simulated flaw types with the fracture properties of the region being addressed.

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