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A metallurgical failure analysis was performed on pieces of the cracked vent header pipe from the Edwin I. Hatch Unit 2 Nuclear power plant. The analysis consisted of optical microscopy, chemical analysis, mechanical Charpy impact testing, and fractography. It was found that the material of the vent header met the mechanical and chemical properties of ASTM A516 Grade 70 carbon-manganese steel material and microstructures were consistent with this material. Fracture faces of the cracked pipe were predominantly brittle in appearance with no evidence of fatigue contribution. The NDTT (Nil ductility Transition Temperature) for this material was approximately -51 deg C (-60 deg F). The fact that the material's NDTT was significantly out of the normal operating range of the pipe suggested an impingement of low temperature nitrogen (caused by a faulty torus inerting system) induced a thermal shock in the pipe which, when cooled below its NDTT, cracked in a brittle manner.

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