Stress-assisted, microbial-induced corrosion of stainless steel primary piping and other aging issues at the Omega West Reactor
Description: After the discovery of cooling system leak of about 284 liters per twenty-four (24) hour period, an investigation determined that the 76.2-cm diameter, 33.5-m long stainless-steel (304) OWR delay line was losing water at the same nominal rate. An excavation effort revealed that a circumferential crack, approximately 0.0025 cm in width, extended around the bottom half of the delay line. In addition, other evidence of what appeared to be microcracking and pitting that originated at random nucleated sites around the pipe were also found. Results of destructive analysis and nondestructive testing allowed Los Alamos staff to conclude that the direct cause for the main crack and other pitting resulted from stress-assisted, microbial-induced corrosion of the stainless steel primary piping. The results also indicated that microbial action from bacteria that are normally present in earth can be extremely harmful to stainless- steel piping under certain conditions. Other potential problems that could have also eventually led to a permanent shutdown of the OWR were discussed. These problems, although never encountered nor associated with the current shutdown, were identified in aging studies and are associated with: (1) the water-cooled, bismuth gamma-ray shield and, (2) the aluminum thermal column head seal that prevents reactor vessel water from entering into the graphite-filled thermal column.
Date: July 1, 1995
Creator: Andrade, A.
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