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Repeated failures of high-pressure ball valves were reported in a chemical plant. The ball valves were made of AFNOR Z30C13 martensitic stainless steel. Initial examination of the valves showed that failure occurred in a weld at the ball/stem junction end of austenitic stainless steel sleeves that had been welded to the valve stem at both ends. Metallographic examination showed that a crack had been introduced into the weld by improper weld heat treatment. Stress concentration at the weld location resulting from an abrupt change in cross section facilitated easy propagation of the crack during operation. Proper weld heat treatment was recommended, along with avoidance of abrupt change in cross section near the weld. Due penetrant testing at the ball stem junction before and after heat treatment was also suggested.

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