Stress-Corrosion Cracking of a Type 304 Stainless Steel Pipe Caused by Residual Welding Stresses
A 150 mm (6 in.) schedule 80S type 304 stainless steel pipe (11 mm, or 0.432 in., wall thickness), which had served as an equalizer line in the primary loop of a pressurized-water reactor, was found to contain several circumferential cracks 50 to 100 mm (2 to 4 in.) long. Two of these cracks, which had penetrated the pipe wall, were responsible for leaks detected in a hydrostatic test performed during a general inspection after seven years of service. Investigation (visual inspection, visual and ultrasonic weld examination, water analysis, and chemical analysis) supported the conclusion that the failure was caused by SCC due to stress, sensitization, and environment. Recommendations included replacing all pipe sections and installing them using low-heat-input, multiple-pass welding procedures.