Corrosion control limits for High-Level Waste storage are being revisited to determine if a ratio of inhibiting and aggressive species, the Pitting Factor, is applicable to predicting localized corrosion in waste tank chemistries. An experimental matrix was designed to evaluate the use of the pitting factor for supernate chemistries, particularly during the salt dissolution process. Two electrochemical methods were identified to determine the susceptibility of A537 and A285 low-carbon steels to pitting corrosion within this chemistry envelope at temperatures up to 75 °C. The predominant electrochemical test method was Cyclic Potentiodynamic Polarization (CPP) studies. Where CPP was inconclusive, Modified ASTM G192 was successfully used to evaluate pitting susceptibility conditions and allowed for a pass/fail result to be determined. In all cases, the pitting factor was determined to be applicable to the simulants tested, with this metric accurately predicting incidences in which pitting occurred.


At Savannah River Site (SRS), High-Level Waste is stored in below-grade tanks constructed of carbon steel. This waste is composed of sludge, salt cake, and/or supernate. In part, preparation of this waste for future processing involves dissolution of the salt cake layer. The salt dissolution process can create conditions that leave the carbon steel tanks susceptible to a number of corrosion processes. The salt to be dissolved contains high concentrations of nitrate, that once released, create an environment that may be conducive to pitting corrosion of carbon steel.

The salt dissolution process also liberates interstitial liquid trapped between the salt crystals. This liquid is initially high in nitrite and hydroxide concentration. High pH and greater ratios of nitrite to nitrate act as inhibitors to minimize corrosion of carbon steel in high nitrate environments. However, as dissolution proceeds the concentration of nitrate will increase while the hydroxide and nitrite concentration of the interstitial liquid will deplete and become insufficient to prevent the onset of corrosion attack. Tank blending and addition of inhibitors are used to ensure adequate concentrations of hydroxide and nitrite. However, this is not desirable during salt dissolution as it can reduce process efficiency and increase the amount of waste that needs processed.

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