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Type 347 stainless steel moderator circuit branch piping in a pressurized hot water reactor was experiencing frequent leakage. Investigation of the problem involved failure analysis of leaking pipe specimens, analytical stress analysis, and determination of “leak-before-break” conditions using fracture mechanics and thermal fatigue simulation tests. Failure analysis indicated that cracking had been initiated by thermal fatigue. Data from the analysis were used in making the leak-before-break predictions. It was determined that the cracks could grow to two-thirds of the circumferential length of the pipe without catastrophic failure. A thin stainless steel sleeve was inserted in the branch pipe to...

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