Cable System Aging Management





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Technical Report

Engineering Support

Reduced Cost

Technical Excellence

Cable System Aging Management

Final Report, April 2002

EPRI Project Manager G. J. Toman

EPRI • 3412 Hillview Avenue, Palo Alto, California 94304 • PO Box 10412, Palo Alto, California 94303 • USA 800.313.3774 • 650.855.2121 • •


Requests for copies of this report should be directed to EPRI Orders and Conferences, 1355 Willow Way, Suite 278, Concord, CA 94520, (800) 313-3774, press 2 or internally x5379, (925) 609-9169, (925) 609-1310 (fax). Electric Power Research Institute and EPRI are registered service marks of the Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. EPRI. ELECTRIFY THE WORLD is a service mark of the Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. Copyright © 2002 Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.

EPRI Licensed Material

This report was prepared by EPRI Plant Support Engineering (PSE) 1300 W.T. Harris Blvd. Charlotte, NC 28262 Principal Investigator G. J. Toman This report describes research sponsored by EPRI. The report is a corporate document that should be cited in the literature in the following manner: Cable System Aging Management, EPRI, Palo Alto, CA: 2002. 1003317.



a larger. If a large number of cables are found to have experienced significant aging. If aging is ignored. are experiencing significant aging. Background Failure of the insulation systems of electrical cables that are used in nuclear plants might adversely affect safety and/or operations. Results A flow chart of activities involved in a cable aging management program is provided in this report. some cables will experience significant v . If none of the cables. some operation cables might be subject to conditions that could lead to their failure in service. This report describes the basics of establishing a cable aging management program. segments of some safety cables are located in adverse normal environments. a limited continuing program will result. Guidance is also provided on how to prepare for and document a cable system assessment. Most cables are aging very slowly and no significant degradation will occur. These cable segments could become susceptible to failure under accident environments. Similarly. along with concepts for implementation of the activities. or very few cables. including practical guidance on preparing for and performing in-plant cable evaluation Approach This report describes the activities that are needed to establish a cable aging management system. Initial activities are described. more vigorous program will be necessary. So that the cost of initial implementation can be determined. which will cause them to age more rapidly. the need for a limited or expanded continuing effort is determined on a plantspecific basis. Objectives • To provide a framework for a cost-effective cable aging management program • To provide guidance for initial efforts in cable aging management. Based on the results of the initial data gathering and limited inplant assessments. there is an increased need to identify cables located in adverse environments and to determine the adequacy of those cables for continued use. even after 60 years. tables are also provided with estimates of staff hours for each of the activities.EPRI Licensed Material REPORT SUMMARY As plants age. EPRI Perspective Both regulators and plant owners/operators are becoming concerned with the potential impact of cable aging in nuclear power plants. Methods are provided for use in gleaning information from electrical and Instrumentation and Control personnel about current plant condition and past cable issues and replacements. However.

should not be overly large. The number of cables affected is a function of plant design and the types of cables selected for use. The number of cables that are in adverse environments will be small.deterioration. the problem of cable aging management is neither insurmountable nor should it be expensive to resolve. Of the cables in this small population. Most plant cables are located in benign environments. Keywords Electrical cable Cable system aging management Cable condition assessment Cable condition monitoring vi . Cable failures can affect safety or plant operation. The effort to identify and evaluate cables in adverse environments. Although there are many millions of feet of cable within each nuclear plant. the quantity that need replacement more than once during the life of the plant will be even smaller. and to implement sampling inspections to evaluate their condition. with respect to their ability to withstand aging.

vii .EPRI Licensed Material ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This report is the 2001 product for members of the PSE Cable Program.


......................................................1 5............5-3 6 ACTIONS SUBSEQUENT TO INITIAL ASSESSMENT............................................3-1 3.............................4-3 Interviews of Plant Staff ....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................7-1 ix .......................3-1 4 SUSCEPTIBILITY OF CABLES TO AGING .......................................................................2 4.......................................................4 4.......................................................2 6........................................4-1 Use of Environmental Monitoring in Cable Aging Management ................6-1 Low-Voltage Cable .......................................................................................1-1 2 MANAGEMENT SPONSORSHIP ...1 Introduction .................................2-1 2..................................................5 Identification of Cables That Are Expected to Age More Rapidly ...............................................................5-1 Initial Inspection ..........................................................1 2..4-5 5 ASSESSMENT OF THE CABLE SYSTEM .....................................................3 Introduction ...............1 3 RELATIONSHIP OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALIFICATION TO CABLE AGING MANAGEMENT...................................2-1 Initial Efforts ..........................................................2 Safety Cable Aging Mechanisms ......................EPRI Licensed Material CONTENTS 1 INTRODUCTION ....................................................................................5-1 5...........................1 4.............................................1 6.............................................4-3 Sources and Attributes of Aging ..............................................................................................................7-1 7....................................................................3 4..3-1 Additional Aging Mechanisms for Non-Safety Cable .....................................................................2-2 Estimation of Labor for Initial Efforts .................................6-1 Medium-Voltage Cable ...................................................................................................................................................4-1 4...............6-2 7 IN-PLANT CABLE EVALUATION .....................2 Scope of Program .2 Determining Where to Look .....................................................................................1 3......................................................................................................2-2 2................2....4-2 Understanding the Cable System ....6-1 6..................

.........7-4 Identification of Cable Circuits Within the Plant ......2 Walkdowns and Inspections .................................7-5 In-Plant Work Considerations ......................................7...........................................6 Initial Inspection Efforts...................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................1 7..........................................7-7 8 REFERENCES ...............................7-2 Cable Familiarization........................................ A-1 x ..........7-9 7..................1 7...........................................................7 7......3 Planning...................7-7 Work Within Radiation Zones............7-1 Training......3...........................7-8 Documentation of Findings ..........................................................7-7 Types of Walkdown/Inspection .........................................EPRI Licensed Material 7............2 7...........................6..................................................3............................................7-7 Working at Heights............2 7.......5 7............7-3 7.........................................................................4 7................................1 7................................................................6.............................7...................2 7.......................8-1 A CABLE SYSTEM AGING MANAGEMENT FLOW CHART ..............................................7-2 Expected Changes with Aging ...........................

........EPRI Licensed Material LIST OF TABLES Table 2-1 Expected Staff Hours for Low-Voltage Cable Activities .........2-3 Table 2-2 Expected Staff Hours for Medium-Voltage Cable Activities ..5-4 xi ....................................................................2-5 Table 5-1 Degradation Observable During Physical Cable Inspection ....................................


A flow chart for the implementation of a cable system aging management program is provided in Appendix A. and describes a program that can be used to manage the aging of a cable system at any point in the life of a plant. trays. conduits. and the associated terminations within a cable system. connectors. Each of these affects the operability of the cable system under normal and accident conditions and must be considered in addressing aging management of cable systems. degradation can impact capability during normal service. both safety cables and operationally important cables must be considered in a cable aging management program. Cables are often routed through multiple plant compartments that have large variations in both normal and accident environments. or the ability to perform a safety function under accident conditions. Both safety circuits and circuits that affect plant operation must be considered under a plant’s cable system aging management program. Consideration of safety circuits ensures long-term power production. Depending on the application and the safety significance. experience little or no degradation during the life of a plant. This report addresses aging management of cables and their terminations. However. A power plant’s cable system is not limited to field cables only—it also includes panel and hookup wire. terminations. most cables. The severe aging of operationally important cables can cause a reduction in power output or plant trips. and support and protection systems such as tie-downs. Therefore.EPRI Licensed Material 1 INTRODUCTION The cable system for a nuclear plant is extensive and contains cables with different configurations and insulation systems. 1-1 . Even when license renewal is considered. and ducts. or have a sensitivity to their environment that could cause significant degradation. some cables and terminations are located in whole or in part in severe normal environments.


They are usually easy to add to the program because evaluations of the end-device portions of the field cables occur in the junction boxes where the terminations and local wiring are located. The terminations and the local wiring between the field cable and the end device must also be considered. performance of interviews of electricians and instrumentation and control (I&C) personnel.EPRI Licensed Material 2 MANAGEMENT SPONSORSHIP Plant management has to actively support a cable system aging management program for it to be successful. The terminations and local wiring are also in the vicinity where hands-on work could disturb them.1 Scope of Program The program should cover two cable groups: safety cables and cables that are operationally important. Cables that are operationally important should be in the program to prevent plant trips and output reductions from shorted or opened cable circuits. Support does not require the expenditure of large amounts of money. This section provides insight into initial and ongoing cable aging management activities and costs. However. and then performing a limited inspection of cables in the worst-case environments. 2. these components of the cable system are often at the highest risk of significant aging and/or damage and should be within the scope of the aging management program. They do not provide all of the risk of failure. In addition to the cables and terminations. or whether a more sophisticated cable aging management program is necessary. Identification of all of the individual circuits that are either related to safety circuits or to operationally important circuits is a large task. Trays. which can be used in requesting management support. support and protective components must be considered. initial efforts can be based on the identification of adverse normal environments (for example. Accordingly. Ensuring the continued function of safety cables under normal and accident conditions is a regulatory requirement. performance of an assessment of the capabilities of cable types installed in the plant. if needed. radiation. correct significant degradation of the cable system. Often the termination and local wiring are in the most adverse environment because they are closest to the process-mounted equipment. and ducts must support and protect the cables. but it does require some funding and active encouragement of the plant staff to identify and. These initial efforts will indicate whether the cable system is aging slowly and limited further activity is needed. and chemical). Rather. temperature. initial efforts need not be predicated on identification of the list of cable circuits. The phrase cable system aging management is used because the field cables comprise only a portion of the circuit that could deteriorate. Deterioration or 2-1 . conduits.

which could compromise the cables in the program. detailed aging management program for cables is costly and inappropriate. a limited program can be implemented and the next effort scheduled at the 30-year mark. the associated terminations and local wiring. identification of potentially adverse areas for cables and a limited inspection of cables in those areas will indicate the degree to which a cable system aging management program is necessary and the rate at which it must be deployed. must be identified and corrected.2 Initial Efforts Immediately starting a large. If no significant aging is identified at 20 years. and the associated trays. and supervisors to record knowledge of past cable problems and replacements. 2. conduits. for a plant that is more than 20 years old. Knowledge of how to retrieve documents from the plant documentation system is also assumed. 2-2 . the recommended scope of a cable system aging management program includes safety cables and operationally important cables. and ducts. In summary.1 Estimation of Labor for Initial Efforts Table 2-1 provides an approximate level of effort to perform the initial cable system activities listed in Section 2. and known adverse conditions for cables within the plant Based on the third and fourth items above. The initial efforts for low-voltage cable are described in Sections 4 and 5 and include: • • • • • Determining the types of low-voltage cables used in the plant for safety and the operationally important circuits Identification of areas of the plant with adverse normal environments Evaluation of the insulations and jackets of the identified cable types with respect to the adverse environments Discussions with electricians. I&C personnel. However.2.EPRI Licensed Material Management Sponsorship damage to these components. The estimates are based on use of personnel with plant experience and a moderate understanding of cable types and aging.2 for the low-voltage cable system. a more sophisticated program will be needed that might include inspections at each outage and/or implementation of condition monitoring activities that are more comprehensive than visual/tactile inspections. If a number of significantly deteriorated cables are identified. inspection of representative cables to assess the condition of cables in plant spaces with either known or suspected adverse conditions 2.

Create inspection plan. Determine applications with representative cables. Inspect cables to determine if significant aging has occurred. purchase orders. Totals Identify areas for cable inspection 20 to 40 Implement inspection plan and identify additional actions if any 40 to 120 Low: Median: High: 200 295 390 The estimate indicates that 5 to 10 staff weeks will be required to identify and perform an initial assessment of the worst-case low-voltage cables for a plant. identification of chemical zones and continuously moist areas (for example. Determine rooms with adverse environment with respect to condition of cable at time of interest. Review manufacturers’ literature for chemical withstand as needed. review of additional environment data for zones not covered by the EQ program. I&C personnel. Identify radiation capabilities from EQ data or EPRI NP-4172SP.EPRI Licensed Material Management Sponsorship Table 2-1 Expected Staff Hours for Low-Voltage Cable Activities Activity Determine the types of low-voltage cables in use Means of Implementation Review of Environmental Qualification (EQ) records. some plants have prepared work orders to pull new cable for the circuits that will be 2-3 . See further discussion below. Given the short duration of outages. and supervisors 30 to 50 (includes time of persons interviewed and time to document results) 50 to 80 Evaluation of the insulations and jackets of the identified cable types with respect to the adverse environments Identify Arrhenious activation energy from EQ data or industry database. Determine to extent practical if actual cable type exists in room. and receipt documentation Review of EQ environment data. 20 hours of training might be needed. and knowing that inspections of in-containment cables are possible. For personnel inexperienced in cable configurations and identification of symptoms of aging. The only addition to the cost would be for the training of inspection personnel. intake structures) Meetings with senior and mostexperienced personnel responsible for cable installation and replacement Staff Hours 40 to 60 Identification of areas of the plant with adverse normal environments 20 to 40 Discussions with electricians.

including donning of anti-contamination clothing.and condition-specific and cannot be estimated here. the cable system aging management program activities will have to be expanded to encompass more areas in the plant and to add inspections for future planned outages. The costs of an expansion of the low-voltage cable program would be plant. wearing of harnesses. The costs of these activities are not included in the above estimates. The number of different work areas to be accessed will also affect the cost. The amount of time required for inspections will depend on the difficulty of access. Many plants have pull-cards that link installed cables to their procurement and receipt inspection data. which will provide an indication of the base capability of the materials when new. If significant deterioration is identified on a number of cables. availability of replacement cable should be checked to assure that replacement materials are available if needed. The efforts might have to include application of more sophisticated condition monitoring techniques. Prior to inspections. This information allows determination of actual cable-type installed. If only limited information is known about the cables in the plant. in case severe damage is observed. then a much less costly update of the activity could be performed 5 to 10 years later to reconfirm that aging is proceeding slowly. and other obstacles to access. If no significant deterioration is identified. retrieving information from plant records will increase planning costs beyond the amounts listed. This estimate is only for the initial effort.EPRI Licensed Material Management Sponsorship inspected. which would provide a better understanding of the degree and rate of aging that would allow use of cables for the longest possible period without risk of accident or in-service failure. 2-4 . Creation of an inspection plan might require determination of specific cable types in use. such as elongation at break. It also might contain data from original manufacturing tests. its materials and configuration.

inspection of spare cables in warehouse Review of plant layout. a plan can be developed that might include purchase of replacement cable. which cables are at highest risk. Such refurbishment might be desirable for installations where removal of the old cable and pulling of a new cable is difficult. It requires determination of the cable. forcing dry nitrogen through the spaces between the strands of the conductor to dry the interior. 1 2-5 . Table 2-2 Expected Staff Hours for Medium-Voltage Cable Activities Activity Identify the types and configuration of medium-voltage cable installed in the plant Determine the construction materials of the cable Identify those cables that are subject to long-term wet conditions Identify those cables that operate at or very near their ampacity rating Identify areas where medium-voltage cable has vertical runs of 25 or more feet (7.5 staff weeks. The longevity of the refurbishment is currently being established.6 m) and evaluate physical supports Analyze information and make recommendations Means of Implementation Review purchase orders and receipt documentation Receipt data. liquid silicone rubber through spacings between the conductor strands. if so. high-voltage withstand testing. walkdowns. and early replacement or refurbishment.1 This task is expected to take between 4 and 7. A refurbishment technique exists for medium-voltage cable that can restore electrical properties.EPRI Licensed Material Management Sponsorship Table 2-2 provides an estimate of the effort involved in evaluating the medium-voltage cable system. and then forcing moisture-curing. inspections Review of loadings with respect to cable sizing Layout drawing and walkdown assessments Staff Hours 24 to 48 16 to 32 30 to 50 30 to 50 20 to 40 Develop report from data Totals 40 to 80 Low: Median: High: 160 230 300 The outcome of this task is to determine if there is a high or low risk of a medium-voltage cable failure in the near term (two to five years) and. With this data.


However. are key to managing the aging of cable insulation and jacketing systems. With these qualifications. cable life can be significantly less than 40 years. 3-1 . This aging occurs exponentially with increasing stress levels.EPRI Licensed Material 3 RELATIONSHIP OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALIFICATION TO CABLE AGING MANAGEMENT 3. 3. However. some cables—especially nonsafety cables—run through areas that are moist or subject to corrosive chemicals. however.1 Safety Cable Aging Mechanisms For safety cables. plants entered service confident that safetyrelated cable would be long-lived and require little maintenance. Cables and terminations are long-lived components. especially where elevated temperatures occur simultaneously. In these areas. environmental qualification (EQ) provides a basis for cable aging management. temperature and radiation conditions are the most significant stresses. metals of termination systems and the conductors of the cables might deteriorate at the termination. and evaluating the effects of that stress. The artificial aging that is performed in EQ programs demonstrates the ability of cables to withstand normal operating conditions while retaining the ability to function under accident environments. might cause corrosion of exposed crimp and terminal block connections. IEEE Std 323-1974 and Std 323-1983 [1] both state that EQ is just one step in the process of ensuring the quality of components. IEEE Std 383-1974 [2] directly discusses EQ testing of cables but does not discuss the other activities related to ensuring long-term operability of cables. The other steps include design. the aging of plant cables is now a concern. Condensing moisture. installation. Most modern insulations for low-voltage cable are not affected by moisture. With plants entering midlife. With low stress levels. with high stress levels. and periodic testing. and many entering and achieving license renewal. manufacturers were told to perform their qualifications for power and control cables in such a way that a 40-year life would be possible even with an elevated ambient and/or conductor temperature. Accordingly. Identifying safety and operationally important cables that are subject to elevated stress. very long life occurs.2 Additional Aging Mechanisms for Non-Safety Cable Most areas that are potentially subject to harsh accident conditions are dry and do not have corrosive chemical environments under normal plant conditions. However. production. maintenance.

EPRI Licensed Material Relationship of Environmental Qualification to Cable Aging Management Borates and acids can also affect cable conductors and terminations where exposed. cable aging management programs should consider wet areas and areas with chemical contamination. in addition to high-temperature and highradiation zones. especially for cables that affect plant capacity. 3-2 . Intake structures and water chemistry treatment areas should be considered. Therefore.

Radiation sensitivity and Arrhenius life assessments can be performed on a cable-typeby-cable-type basis. If short-lived cables were used in the room. if all cable types have long lives (for example. A review of the types of cables in use.1 Identification of Cables That Are Expected to Age More Rapidly Most cables in a plant are expected to suffer few effects from aging. well in excess of 60 years) for the given conditions. A room with no cables present is eliminated from consideration. those cables would be candidates for evaluation under the Cable Aging Management Program. allows discrimination between cables that will have a long life and those that could degrade significantly during plant operations. and manufacturers. If the short-lived type of cable was not used in the room. If certain cable types have lives that are shorter than the operating period. in conjunction with the environments of the rooms containing the cables.EPRI Licensed Material 4 SUSCEPTIBILITY OF CABLES TO AGING 4. Those plants with detailed information can perform scoping efforts quickly and can readily identify rooms with cables and the types of cables in those rooms. their ability to withstand aging from temperature and radiation conditions is determined. Plants applying for license renewal perform such an analysis to determine whether a cable system aging management program must be a condition for license renewal. then the cable types in actual use would be determined. the temperature can be determined for a life greater than 60 years. If cables are present in the room. Information on environment and cable type can then be used to perform scoping analyses in order to determine approximate life expectancy of the cables. Cables in rooms with temperatures that are lower than the determined temperature can then be eliminated from immediate consideration. some materials are more sensitive to aging than others and some locations in a plant have more severe environments. The evaluation is currently based on a spaces approach in which the rooms in a plant are evaluated by determining their normal design environments and whether or not cables are present in the room. Although environment might vary. 4-1 . This analysis can be performed on a generic basis in which the environment is considered for all types of cable that could possibly be in the room. Plants use varying numbers of cable types. configurations. In such cases. Environment can be determined from the room information. However. the room would be eliminated from consideration. Some plants maintain detailed descriptions of the installed cables and the associated routing. Other plants do not know the specific types of cables in use (that is. they know the configuration but not the specific polymers or manufacturer). a room would be eliminated from consideration.

EPRI Licensed Material Susceptibility of Cables to Aging For plants that do not know the specific cables in use. Therefore. if high normal radiation conditions exist. However. electrical deterioration of wet medium-voltage cables—especially in combination with elevated physical (severe bending or compression) or thermal stress—can lead to early failure. Ethylene propylene rubber (EPR) constructions are less susceptible. Instantaneous failure does not occur in wet conditions. The temperature and radiation data are then used to establish conservative actual conditions for use in evaluating cable life. requires review of the chemical systems in the plant where leakage or handling could allow cables to become contaminated. The experience of plant personnel should help to reduce the number of cable types that will need to be considered for a given area. Water can accelerate the aging of medium-voltage cables. the temperature limit for a life (for the period of operation plus five to ten years) can be used to determine a temperature of concern for each cable type. In general. industry materials databases can be queried concerning Arrhenius aging model activation energies and radiation capability. but do eventually deteriorate when subjected to long-term exposure to moisture. moisture could cause corrosion of airinsulated terminations and lead to high-resistance connections or shorting in the vicinity of the terminations. 4. For low-voltage cable. Cross-linked polyethylene (XLPE) constructions manufactured in the early 1970s were particularly susceptible to electrical deterioration under wet conditions. however. which is not waterproof) can keep the insulation completely dry. More modern polymer water-resistant jackets reduce water ingress and increase life. Identification of cables potentially affected by chemical conditions. the experience of I&C and maintenance personnel. scoping can be performed using procurement records. identifying cables subject to high temperature often identifies high-radiation cables. Monitoring the temperature and radiation conditions in a plant space can help establish its actual condition. temperatures will tend to be elevated. thus. depending on the type of material and construction. If short lives are found for certain types of cables. walkdowns might be necessary to determine the cable types in actual use in those areas. wetting generally does not lead to insulation failure. Cable materials can then be evaluated to determine the areas where cables will age prematurely. which the EQ group will have for harsh environment safety cables. The duration of the monitoring should be such that the variations in normal temperature are well understood. Jacketing styles have significant effect on life. When necessary.2 Use of Environmental Monitoring in Cable Aging Management Further discrimination between cables that are expected to deteriorate and those that will have a long life can be done using actual plant conditions rather than normal design temperatures. As an alternative to evaluating the expected life of the cables for individual areas. A full-metal sheath (not armor. especially if saltwater is involved. Plant areas having temperatures equal to or greater than the temperature of concern could be reviewed more specifically. 4-2 . and walkdowns. Such conditions occur only in areas subject to frequent condensing moisture where cabinet heaters are not in use. The cable types (material and manufacturer information) used in the plant can be determined from procurement records. Long-term exposure of cables to moisture can affect certain applications.

4. some plants were turnkey while others were designed by or had heavy input from the owner on the techniques to be used. This enables gathering of information before knowledgeable personnel retire or move on. These data allow more precise evaluation of the cables in localized adverse environments [3]. Cable systems might also have evolved over the life of the plant. observed damage. indicates areas where localized temperature or radiation monitoring is desirable.4 Interviews of Plant Staff A key means of identifying actual adverse environments is through interviewing electrical maintenance and I&C personnel. the normal temperature and radiation levels are rarely uniform. Such information helps to ensure that aging issues are resolved before they significantly affect a population of cables within the system. 4-3 . After a cable aging management program has been initiated. Many plants had to backfit fire separation.EPRI Licensed Material Susceptibility of Cables to Aging For rooms with severe environments. In addition. these personnel might identify other issues that need to be addressed in cable aging management. Such deratings also limit ohmic heating. reducing the thermal aging of cables. A review of the area’s physical layout by walkdown or use of equipment layout drawings might reveal locations where normal operating conditions are more severe. resulting in fire protection insulation being installed over cable trays.3 Understanding the Cable System When starting a cable aging management program. Some plants used very conservative cable derating factors to ensure that voltage drop would be limited in circuits. and termination cabinets. The initial effort should be in group-format where a few questions are asked to start the thinking process. conduits. Generally. Evaluation of the location of cable trays. Many philosophies have been employed in the development of plant cable systems. At least one person should be available to take detailed notes and another cableknowledgeable person should help the interviewees by asking questions that will produce additional insight and information concerning cable aging. Some designs pre-dated current separation concepts and used plant-unique methods. Degradation from causes that are not related to temperature and radiation might also be identified. These interviews should occur as soon as possible when starting the aging management effort. They might be aware of previous cable problems and degradation because their day-to-day work brings them in contact with the cable system. the conditions are worse near a process line or valve. The aging of cable systems is affected by the basic design and construction methods used in a plant. with different cable types used for later modifications and differences in terminations and tray and conduit systems. and repairs and replacements that have taken place. understanding the design and configuration of the cable system is critical. with respect to the source of energy. 4. Differences in fire protection systems can also affect heat transfer and cable temperatures. plant personnel should be encouraged to forward cable system aging issues to the individual responsible for the program.

The gathering of the experience data will accomplish two things. It will firm up the design and aging assessment review and allow a reality check. the time that the event occurred. The type of corrective action should be ascertained to ensure that the problem is fully 3-hour session. high moisture. ducts) damage been observed? Has water buildup in conduits and ducts been observed? Have some locations in the plant been observed as excessively hot? If so.and medium-voltage cables and safety and non-safety cables. some interview-starting questions include: • • • • • • • • • • • • Have cable failures occurred? If so. Each identified incident should be recorded and considered with respect to plant safety and operation. as will ongoing conditions that might require redesign or overview by an aging management program. where was the damage and what equipment was connected to the cables? What corrective actions were taken when cable failure or damage was observed? Has damage to connectors and terminations been observed? Has cable support system (trays. or discoloration been observed? If so. and cable support systems will also affect the functionality of the cable system. where were these locations? Do cables have to be routinely replaced due to rapid aging? Has corrosion damage to terminations been observed in the in-take structure and other damp building areas? Have failures or degradation of local hook-up wiring been a problem? When responses are received that indicate a cable or connection problem. The purpose of the interviews is not to assure that there is no aging or that all aging issues have been resolved but rather to gather data on locations and applications where aging or damage has been observed. conduits. and the nature of the cause. connectors. 4-4 . follow-up interviews with individuals should be performed to gather and check details. has cable damage. numerous cable issues and resolutions will be identified. cracking. Deterioration from adverse vibration.EPRI Licensed Material Susceptibility of Cables to Aging For low. As needed. The focus should not only be on insulation problems and some straying from the direct topic area of cables should be allowed. In a 2. further questions should be asked to determine the physical location of the problem. or chemical environments might be identified. Aging of terminations. The key to aging management is knowing where the adverse conditions are and their level of severity with respect to the capabilities of the cables and accessories. It will also identify situations where aging and damage that are not solely due to thermal and radiation aging have been observed. where were they and what were the causes? During instrument or equipment maintenance.

to a more limited extent. when only a few percent E-at-B exists. coupled with physical bending after aging. the tensile strength. satisfactory physical properties in medium-voltage cable might not be indicative of the ability of medium-voltage cable to continue to function.5 Sources and Attributes of Aging There are three basic components of cables that can age: the conductor. Once bending causes cracking. with aging occurring exponentially more rapidly as temperatures increase. areas of the containment. radiation. The only additional concern beyond bending would be 4-5 .EPRI Licensed Material Susceptibility of Cables to Aging 4. low-voltage cable will function satisfactorily. Electrical deterioration will not be observed in low-voltage cable (<1000 Vac or dc). in order to provide mechanical strength necessary for the riggers of installation. with respect to electrical needs. Only after a crack occurs will electrical properties be adversely affected. for safety-related cable. ultimately. these ratings are based on ambient temperatures of 40°C (104°F). temperature. aging might not be appreciable at 60 years. For most insulations and jackets. They will remain a brittle tube with no appreciable change in electrical properties. Therefore. In low-voltage cable. especially for BWRs. The most important cause of long-term aging of the cable system is thermal aging. and the insulation. Long life for these cables occurs when ambient temperatures are lower. Above 50°C (122°F). these cables begin to age more rapidly. the conductor will age much more slowly than the insulation and jacket materials. The material will become stiff and. Most other applications are either normally de-energized or carry little load compared to the ampacity of the cable. the insulation will crack when subjected to bending stresses. The elongation-atbreak will change from a few hundred percent to less than 50%. However.and radiationinduced damage mechanisms apply to medium-voltage cable. These cables might experience limited ohmic heating. The elongation-at-break (E-at-B) of the material and. nearly all aging of the polymers is induced from the ambient environment. and below the turbine. The sources of aging are ohmic heating from current. Thermal. ohmic heating is almost nonexistent. aging causes hardening of the material. Electrical deterioration of medium-voltage cable is beyond the scope of this discussion and will be covered separately. can have elevated temperatures and localized adverse environments. however. steam tunnel. For low-voltage cable. Cracking of modern insulations occurs only after severe aging. even when aged to the point of being brittle. often due to the need to limit spread of radioactive contaminants. At and below 40°C (104°F). satisfactory physical properties generally do indicate that the cable will function satisfactorily. EPR and XLPE do not spontaneously crack. the main causes of aging that will be observed in a nuclear power plant are temperature and. In nearly all cases. contaminants and moisture bridging the cracks can cause shorting. In general. For low-voltage cable. insulation thicknesses are very large. Depending on plant type and vintage. For most safety-related cables. A few special cases are described at the end of this section. Nuclear power plants have many hot spaces and process equipment. The ratio of insulation thicknesses to applied voltage is much larger than the ratio at which electrical deterioration would be possible. will decrease. jacket aging will be detectable within a few years for many of the cables in use. With no bending subsequent to the aging. The one possible exception is in cables used for containment coolers at PWRs. and radiation from the environment. Most cables have insulations designed for conductor temperatures of 90°C (194°F) and greater. the material will remain an insulating tube. the jacket. At 90°C (194°F).

except for locations where radiation streaming occurs through the biological shield wall around process piping. the Hypalon jacket can crack under a steam accident condition. solenoid-operated valves. When evaluating cable.EPRI Licensed Material Susceptibility of Cables to Aging failures of certain materials under steam accident condition. damage to cables will more likely be in areas where the cable runs adjacent to or is connected to a hot process pipe or component. Within-containment radiation levels will generally cause less damage than thermal aging. high-temperature conditions will be localized near hot process piping or in the upper reaches of confined spaces containing process equipment. the material has little remaining tensile strength and less effort is required to create a crack upon bending the material. Specific inspection of cables subject to streaming might be desirable. the run of the tray and conduit system should be considered to determine if additional hot spots (adverse localized environments) occur at locations other than the end device. 4-6 . Spontaneous cracking of PVC jackets can be observed when the lighting fixture is close to the PVC cable. At that point. Increased stiffening will indicate aging. EPR generally has a Hypalon jacket directly over the insulation. In some cases. the material also experiences scission. the end device connected to the cable will be the hottest portion of the cable. In this case. it is quite flexible. Research is underway to identify the degree of aging at which failure would be expected under steam accident conditions. PVC becomes rigid. The Hypalon ages significantly faster than EPR when exposed to aging stresses from the ambient environment (see the Hypalon discussion below). In most cases. especially for cables requiring environmental qualification. in which the long-chains break into smaller segments. Fluorescent lighting fixtures are a key source of ultraviolet radiation in power plants. In nuclear plant cables. the insulation is called a composite insulation system. however. Very localized hot conditions also occur in electrical housings of continuously energized. In addition to thermal aging. Thermal aging of PVC causes the material used as a plasticizer to evaporate. Such a problem is being evaluated currently for EPR insulation with bonded Hypalon™ jackets. Both temperature and radiation cause an increased degree of cross-linking of the long-chain polymer molecules in rubber materials. The crack then propagates through the EPR. The plasticizer prevents the long-chain molecules from cross-linking and allows flexibility. As such. Although PVC is harder than neoprene and Hypalon when new. Once severely aged. Ultimately. the Hypalon can become the controlling factor during the aging process. Neoprene and Hypalon and radiation-resistant insulations are not susceptible to ultraviolet light damage. some PVCs are susceptible to ultraviolet radiation. exposing the conductor. cable trays or conduits can be located near hot process equipment such as heat exchangers or headers. Adverse Condition Locations In most cases. When the Hypalon is bonded to the EPR during manufacture. EPR is a relatively soft insulation that ages very slowly. Cross-linking causes the material to be more rigid and reduces flexibility. Radiation will also cause hardening of most insulation materials. Once the plasticizer is lost.

Rubber-jacketed cables age exponentially faster as temperatures increase above 50°C (122°F). review of the severity of aging in the streaming cone area should be reviewed. In general. If the hot-area cables are not experiencing significant aging. Guideline for the Management of Adverse Localized Equipment Environments [3]. If a concern is identified. Naturally. However. The exceptions to this statement are cables that are located in very high-dose rate areas having low temperature. the cables in cooler areas will have experienced less severe aging and be in satisfactory condition as well. these calculations might not completely describe cable aging. cables located in the hottest. Temperature rise is proportional to the square of the current. A starting point for a systematic review is to consider areas with a continuous average temperature above 50°C (122°F). Voltage drop calculations might have further limited current loadings on cables. A physical assessment of the cables in the most severe environments will indicate if aging is proceeding as expected within the plant. If cable currents have been limited to 80% of the ampacity. the temperature rise at the conductor should be 32°C (90°F) or less. With respect to aging from ohmic heating on high current cables. Review of high-current cable applications should readily identify conditions where currents are high relative to the ampacity of the cable. provides detailed guidance for the systematic review of a power plant for adverse environmental conditions (hot spots). the sizing calculations for most plants limit loadings to 80% of ampacity or less. Aging in ambients that are 40°C (104°F) or less should proceed slowly. and cables operating at their ampacity limit. Most cables in the plant will not be subjected to severe aging conditions. if streaming issues exist at a plant.1 Determining Where to Look EPRI report. the expected temperature rise at the conductor will be limited to 64% of that expected. therefore. License renewal assessments of the cable system will provide insight regarding the hottest rooms in the plant and the rough ability of cables to withstand the conditions. reducing the current a small amount can have a significant effect. However. Operating currents are often lower than the currents listed in design calculations and the rate of aging would be reduced accordingly. most adverse conditions should be given priority for early inspection. 10s of megarads/40 years) coincide with high-temperature zones. measurement of the actual current should be performed. elevated radiation conditions (for example. For a 90°C (194°F)-rated cable. 5-1 . radiation streaming around piping penetrations in the biological shield can cause localized radiation zones in relatively cool sections of containment and.EPRI Licensed Material 5 ASSESSMENT OF THE CABLE SYSTEM 5. Understanding the pace of aging will provide a sound basis for the Cable Aging Management Program. Review of safety and operationally important cables in hot areas will provide direct information concerning aging in the areas of the plant with cooler temperatures.

If the transposition is not performed during installation. A temperature of 50°C (122°F) could affect Hypalon-EPR and HypalonXLPE cables near the end of plant life. and by review of documentation. causing the cable to overheat while others are underloaded. A fault occurred on the connected transformer and the 5 kV cable cracked to the conductor when the cable jumped due to the magnetic surge from the fault current. cable engineers require transposition in the location of the cables with respect to one another at various points along the routing. Such cable circuits often have multiple cables per phase. will provide part of the necessary information. Review of the installation of cable busses of this type is highly recommended. the dose would have to be tens of megarads. well beyond its ampacity limit. To prevent such imbalances. The author witnessed a case where one plant had some cables with 350 amps and an adjacent cable with 700 amps.EPRI Licensed Material Assessment of the Cable System High-current cable circuits in applications such as auxiliary and startup transformer leads can have problems even when currents are limited in theory to values less than the ampacity of the cables. or is done incorrectly. Identification of adverse environments by analyzing the plant for locations of hot process piping and high radiation conditions. Severe irradiation can also cause insulation and jacket deterioration. Severe hardening of the cable occurred at a fire stop where heat transfer was poor. The magnetic fields around the individual cables can induce significant imbalances in the currents of the individual cables. Areas with 50°C (122°F) or higher temperatures would be of interest with respect to thermal damage. such high doses would also be accompanied by relatively high temperatures. Areas Prone to Cable Degradation High temperature is the most common cause of deterioration of cable insulations and jackets within nuclear plants. Areas to inspect for potential insulation and jacket damage include: • • • • • • • • Mainsteam isolation valve (MSIV) limit switch cables Cables near MSIVs and primary piping Mainsteam tunnel cables Primary Loop RTD cables at RTD head Cables landed directly in housings of continuously energized solenoid-operated valve coils Cables under the turbine (BWR) Cables under the reactor (BWR Mark 1) Cables for motor-operated valves (MOVs) on primary piping 5-2 . In most cases. Such a review is performed as a step in the license renewal process and the results of the review should be preserved for use in development and formalization of the cable system aging management process. the loadings on the individual cables can be well beyond the ampacity of the conductor. For radiation to cause significant damage over the life of a cable. Higher temperatures could affect cables much sooner.

The inspection of cable trays. jacket deterioration does indicate the presence of a relatively severe normal environment. Hardening requires a slight manipulation of the cable to determine the degree of flexibility. Corrosion at terminations in wet areas can be significant. an inspector can distinguish new cable from moderately aged cable and very aged cable from moderately aged cable. 5-3 . The hardening is significant and. especially at saltwater-cooled plants. In addition to radiation and temperature. conduits. with training. particularly in salt environments. intake structure terminations should be examined. the types of cables with an expected short life must be evaluated to determine the attributes that can be considered during visual/tactile inspection. Neoprene and Hypalon.EPRI Licensed Material Assessment of the Cable System • • • Head vent valve cables (BWRs) Cables near heat exchangers Cables in pressurizer cavity (PWRs) In addition to the condition of field cables in these locations. and individual cables can directly indicate aging or can be limited to identifying adverse conditions. Accordingly. Although deterioration of the jacket material does not necessarily mean that the insulation on the conductors has deteriorated. local wiring should be evaluated for deterioration. hardening. terminations. and weeping of plasticizers (PVC insulation only) are indications of degradation of cable polymers. 1 PVC is used for jackets by some plants in outside containment applications. Therefore. 5. water and chemicals can cause deterioration of exposed conductor and conductor-to-lug interfaces. the jacket of these cables provides a means of detecting aging caused by the ambient environment. Discoloration and weeping can be visually identified. Table 5-1 provides examples of degradation that can and cannot be observed during physical inspection of a cable.2 Initial Inspection The scoping and analysis efforts described in Section 4 will identify rooms and locations in which specific cable types could have shortened lifetimes. Cables with deteriorated jackets need to be evaluated further to ensure long-term normal function and accident withstand capability. Discoloration. Neoprene ages the most rapidly. Once this information is known. the most common jacket materials1 in use in nuclear plants. harden with time when exposed to elevated temperature and radiation conditions.

the cable and its vicinity need to be reviewed to determine if other adverse conditions exist such as damage. Electrical deterioration might be more significant. Means of Inspection/Evaluation Visual/tactile. Rubber-jacketed (neoprene/Hypalon). Hardening of polymers might be observable from temperature and radiation. hardening is easy to identify with very slight flexing. Hardening of polymers. Cables affected by these conditions should be evaluated. When performing visual inspection. or chemicals on the surface. Electrical deterioration is not observable by physical evaluation. PVC-jacketed Installation Type In trays Degradation Hardening from thermal and radiation aging. Physical changes are observable only at terminations using technique described above. Adverse conditions might be observed.) Evaluation is the same as above but possible only in junction and termination boxes.EPRI Licensed Material Assessment of the Cable System Table 5-1 Degradation Observable During Physical Cable Inspection Cable Type Rubber-jacketed (neoprene/Hypalon). discoloration from very severe conditions. in panels and junction boxes for single conductor Where visible No effects of normal aging are observable. Jackets on multi-conductor cables will deteriorate more rapidly and can be used as an indicator of stress to the cable. In trays Cross-linked polyethylene In trays. Medium-voltage cable Effects of thermal aging and radiation aging. conduits for multiconductor cable. (Removal of armor is possible but must be performed with extreme care. and oil. Extreme conditions will cause discoloration. physical stress. water. (Identification of hot process equipment adjacent to the cable is possible. 5-4 . PVC-jacketed Armored cable In conduit Hardening from thermal and radiation aging. Severity of environments from process piping and equipment is observable allowing inferences. discoloration from very severe conditions.) Physical sample must be removed to evaluate the degree of aging.

even if inspectors must schedule their effort around maintenance efforts. The voltage gradients in medium-voltage cable are severe enough to cause electrical deterioration at points of elevated physical and thermal stress. subject to combined ambient and ohmic heating temperatures of 50°C (122°F) or less. and discontinuities and inclusions in insulation. then. The five-to-ten-year additional window will help ensure that cables that could age in the next few operating cycles are observed. From the analysis. Inspectors should also carry tools for opening junction boxes. However. Integration of cable inspection with equipment maintenance or replacement is highly recommended. the goal is to determine if the cables are deteriorating significantly at the point of worst-case environment. and cloths for cleaning cable surfaces as needed. Access might be the easiest at these times. flashlights. with preference to those cables under hi0ghest stress. Adverse conditions include wet conduits and duct banks. disruption to shields. tight bends. Often. proximity to hot process lines. Research indicates that nuclear-grade cables. cables that are expected to age significantly in the period of operation to date plus five to ten years should be considered for evaluation. as well as consideration of the need for ladders and scaffolding. Rather. conditions might be much more benign and no appreciable damage will have occurred.EPRI Licensed Material Assessment of the Cable System The initial assessments should concentrate on locations having more severe environments. If the cables in these areas are not aging appreciably. In such cases. 5-5 . as well as those that might already have aged. partial discharge activity might be severe enough to cause physical erosion of the surface of the polymer. and pinching or cutting by cable rungs (especially at the top of a vertical run). cables should be inspected at the point of highest stress. The key concern is to distinguish deteriorated cables from those exhibiting little or no deterioration. For most plants. is difficult to access. Indication of electrical deterioration of medium-voltage cable2 is generally not identifiable from visual inspection. severe insulation compression points. the number of cables to be observed and the number of locations to inspect should not be large. the cable segment most in need of inspection with respect to adverse environment. Observation of adverse effects might warrant electrical testing or modification of the installed condition to remove the unwanted stress or intensifier. which most often is in a location adjacent to or on a process pipe or hot piece of equipment. Electrical deterioration is observable in some cases where unshielded insulation is in contact with grounded surroundings. Therefore. The initial inspection can be limited to observing cables in set locations rather than having a complete list of individual cables. with consideration given to access during operation and outage periods. No real need exists to evaluate cables from specific circuits within trays. by inference. adverse conditions can be observed. indicating that further evaluation and testing might be desirable. The presence of moisture often increases the rate of deterioration. Physical inspections need to be planned. Inspectors must keep in mind that deterioration might be limited to areas immediately adjacent to the heat or radiation source. the remainder of the system should not be aging either. Even a few feet away from the source. have lives in excess of 40 years and generally lives that are 2 Low-voltage cables do not deteriorate from electrical stresses because voltage gradients are low with respect to the electrical properties of the insulation.

or when cables are in the direct shine of radiation streaming from openings surrounding pipes that breach the biological shield surrounding the reactor. Above 50°C (122°F). normal radiation exposures cause limited deterioration of cable materials. Most radiation damage from normal exposure occurs on safety-related cables terminated directly on process piping containing radioactive fluids. as radiation and harsh chemical environments can also affect cables. Temperature is not the only stress affecting cables. In nearly all cases. 5-6 . however. 3 Silicone rubber cables can withstand much higher temperatures for very long periods. cable life is material-dependent and shortens rapidly as temperature increases. however.EPRI Licensed Material Assessment of the Cable System longer than 60 years3. Cables inside of the biological shield are generally non-safety but can affect operations and would be subject to radiation damage from neutron fluence and gamma radiation.

which represents the bulk of the cable under consideration. There are no electrical tests listed here. the plant owner has a number of choices. If severely deteriorated cable is identified. Aging characteristic curves have been and continue to be developed for these techniques. The changes in electrical properties are nearly undetectable from even the most severe 1 Medium-voltage nuclear plant cables (4 to 15 kV) are more amenable to electrical testing. condition monitoring techniques include the following: • • • • • Indenter Polymer Aging Monitor – a device that measures the compressive modulus of neoprene. 6-1 . then the deterioration should be characterized. The owner needs to determine if the rate of deterioration is severe enough to warrant cable replacement prior to the end of plant life. electrical tests are not yet useful in evaluating the aging of cable polymers.2 Low-Voltage Cable For the low-voltage cabling system. including swell and gel factor (XLPE and PVC) Oxidation induction time and oxidation induction temperature (XLPE) Nuclear magnetic resonance inferometry (XLPE and EPR [under development]) Density (XLPE and EPR) The indenter is nondestructive and can be used in a plant. it will have to be replaced or repaired in the near-term. EPRI report TR-114333 [4] provides a discussion of the state of the art in electrical testing of medium-voltage cable. the cables will most likely be satisfactory without replacement. If moderate deterioration is identified near the end of plant life. Hypalon.EPRI Licensed Material 6 ACTIONS SUBSEQUENT TO INITIAL ASSESSMENT 6. Cable condition-monitoring techniques have been and continue to be developed. Identification of moderate deterioration requires further consideration because it indicates that aging is underway. 6. The remaining tests require that a 1 to 10-milligram sample of jacket or insulation be removed and tested in a laboratory. Formal characterization of the condition of the cable might be desirable to determine if or when replacement is necessary. and libraries of condition versus aging data are becoming available for use. For low-voltage cable1. However.1 Introduction Following the first evaluation of the worst-case cables. if moderate deterioration is detected in midlife. selection and use of such electrical tests is beyond the scope of this report and must be approached with caution. and PVC cable jackets to identify the degree of hardening Various chemical tests. However.

or use of cables with jackets and insulations that are more resistant to the operating conditions. condition monitoring is much more advantageous because the results would indicate when portions of the cable population needed to be replaced. given that cables are properly installed (that is. or crimped conditions). Identify those cables that operate at or very near their ampacity rating. if a number of cables are aging. most low-voltage cables are unshielded. no installation damage. Therefore. Identify areas where medium-voltage cable have vertical runs of 25 or more feet (7. The newer pink EPR insulations have longer 6-2 . Wet spaces can occur underground and also inside the plant in below-floor sections of conduit and duct that are not drained. radiation shielding. the cables that are used in nuclear plants are designed for direct burial and. especially under wet conditions. and tan EPR. condition-monitoring tests for low-voltage cable are restricted to tests that evaluate the chemical and physical properties of the polymers. Condition monitoring would also aid in the scheduling of replacements. wet cables or segments of cables will tend to fail sooner than dry sections. Wetting of medium-voltage cables does not cause immediate failure. pink EPR. and XLPE (cross-linked polyethylene). The materials include black EPR (ethylene propylene rubber).6 m). to obtain the longest life from the cables and to optimize outages. If cracks occur either spontaneously or from physical disturbance. For XLPE manufactured in the early 1970s. including addition of cooling. for wet conditions. The below-floor sections can fill from condensation of moisture alone. Most plants will have a type of EPR rather than XLPE. For black EPR. • • • The materials of construction of a medium-voltage cable provide an indication of its expected life. periodic replacement of that cable is the least expensive means of aging management. If severe deterioration is observed. Identify those cables that are subject to long-term wet conditions. energized conditions between 20 and 25 years of service. modifications to the plant might be desirable. Therefore. rerouting of cables. adverse bends. which indicate the degree of embrittlement that could lead to cracking. To complicate matters. However. failures can be expected to begin under wet. a life as short as 10 years might occur under wet energized conditions.EPRI Licensed Material Actions Subsequent to Initial Assessment thermal and radiation aging. unless the cable has a lead sheath or other completely sealed metallic sheath. 6. shorting can occur upon exposure to moisture or other conducting contaminant. A plant owner must consider the relative cost of use of these condition-monitoring techniques. Determine the materials of construction of the cable.3 Medium-Voltage Cable The following activities will help identify the degree to which medium-voltage cable might be degrading: • • Identify the types and configuration of medium-voltage cable installed in the plant. These efforts will provide the feedback necessary to identify the significance of aging of the low-voltage cable system. If only one cable is aging. thereby making electrical testing more difficult due to the lack of ground plane around the insulation system under test. therefore. However. water will reduce the electrical life of the polymers.

The evaluation of this population indicates the cables at highest risk of failure in the near-term and those cables that can be expected to have a very long life. in general. the weight of the cable might cause compression of the support point at the top of the run or might actually cause excessive tension on the segment of cable at the top of the run. If vertical supports were not installed or have failed. The resulting deterioration cannot be detected by visual/tactile inspection and.EPRI Licensed Material Actions Subsequent to Initial Assessment lives. 6-3 . cannot be evaluated by electrical testing. Cables that have currents near their ampacity limit will sustain some thermal damage from ohmic heating. or replacement should be implemented [4]. their operating life might be shorter. If these cables are wet as well. The evaluation allows determinations to be made as to whether proof testing. Medium-voltage cables have electrical deterioration mechanisms. Cables with long vertical runs must be properly supported. refurbishment. Such physical stresses can also adversely affect insulation life and cause early failure.


While many of the insights were gained during Indenter use. Determine the types of cables in the circuits of interest if possible.EPRI Licensed Material 7 IN-PLANT CABLE EVALUATION 7. 7. duct) and routing for the circuits of interest from available layout drawings. the type of cable in use will be determined during the inspection. Identify the rooms through which the cables pass. tray. the cable system assessor must determine the boundaries of the inspection and/or testing program to be performed. 4. Other plants can only determine the type of cable in use by physical inspection. 3. Some plants might only be able to readily identify the location of the end devices for the circuits. duct. Examples could be safety circuits located in environments that would be exposed to an accident environment if one occurred. This preliminary work will allow the number of cable circuits to be reduced to a smaller scope than all cables in the plant.2 Planning Prior to entering the plant. Identify the severity of the expected normal environments for the circuits of interest to allow focus of the effort to be on the more severe environment applications.1 Introduction This section is based upon experience gained during in-plant assessment of cables by visual/tactile assessment and Indenter testing. The Indenter is a test device that evaluates the modulus of the cable jacket or insulation wall. This discussion assumes that a limited assessment is being performed rather than a 100% walkdown. The Indenter allows evaluation in the change in modulus (hardness) and comparison of the results to existing aging data. and the tray. The following are possible steps to take: 1. Reviewing similar applications to identify a circuit typical of others is 7-1 . For this last set of plants. Some plants will have records of specific cable types that were used in specific applications. they tend to harden. As many cable polymers age. or conduit numbers. Determine the circuits of interest. Determine the support system (for example. Others might have full routing information in their records. or cables in a specific area with severe normal conditions. they are applicable to any form of cable system inspection and condition monitoring. conduit. others purchased certain cable types from a limited number of manufacturers and know the types of cables that could be in use. 2.

A key part of more sophisticated cable assessments is the identification of equipment that will be accessible during an outage. the inspection will require additional planning and cost to ensure that scaffolds or other access methods are in place at the time of the inspection. It is not critical to obtain a specimen of every configuration of a manufacturer’s family of a specific cable type (for example. especially when performing initial in-plant inspections. Review of the cable types that have been purchased will prove the total number of types of cable in use at the plant. The list of cables of interest should indicate the expected types of cable in use including manufacturer. the initial inplant work will identify many issues and obstacles to performing cable testing and inspection that cannot be understood from a paper review alone. In addition. However.3 Training The planning effort is useful and helps focus the cable evaluation task. Knowing where scaffolds and other staging systems will be and taking advantage of them to access cables. These unaged specimens will provide the inspector with information on the: • • • • • • • 7-2 Construction of the cable Size of the conductors and overall cable Thickness of jackets. Rockbestos Firewall III with XLPE insulation and Hypalon jacketing). insulation. Manufacturer’s literature will provide descriptions of the cables. cable assessment. Rather. fillers. materials. if not stop. shields. The sample should be long enough to allow a segment of jacket to be removed. and it might also allow a reduction of scope. Cable trays.1 Cable Familiarization Prior to any inspection. and configurations. and drain wires. 7. the inspector/tester needs to understand the types of cable that are in use. at least one example of the cable family should be obtained. will allow inspections and tests to take place that might otherwise be impossible to perform without unreasonable cost and time expenditure. Evaluation of the work to be performed during an outage will allow inspection of cable that might have very infrequent accessibility. Otherwise. Limited access can greatly hamper. Therefore.EPRI Licensed Material In-Plant Cable Evaluation likely to provide sufficient insight concerning overall cable system health.3. and junction boxes are often located well above the floor and sometimes behind or above other equipment. 7. the assessors must be flexible in their approach and be willing to inspect accessible cables. conduits. samples of unaged cable should be obtained for familiarization. Access is often difficult and might require scaffolding and ladders. so that the components of the cable are exposed including insulated conductors. and insulation jacket (EPR/Hypalon configurations) Fillers used to round the cable Texture and feel of jackets and insulations Flexibility of overall cable Hardness of jackets and insulations .

measurement or assessment of its physical condition will indicate the degree of aging that has occurred in service. well before significant aging of the XLPE occurs. but much more slowly than neoprene.EPRI Licensed Material In-Plant Cable Evaluation • • • • • Color of components Configuration (number of conductors. Hypalon – chlorosulfonated polyethylene is a chemical. and drains in the instrument cable) Markings (overall cable label. especially for cables requiring environmental qualification. Some cables. that ages in a manner that is discernable with visual/manual and physical test methods. shields. such as Hypalon. When aging is caused by the ambient environment rather than by ohmic heating from conductor loading. sometimes used as insulation. The Hypalon ages significantly faster than EPR when exposed to aging stresses from the ambient environment (see the Hypalon discussion below). The material gradually hardens after a significant induction period1. footage indications) Pigmentation of insulation. or PVC. EPR generally has a Hypalon jacket directly over the insulation. Some are relatively hard and stiff. and CPE insulations.3. and flexibility changes that are indicative of significant aging. are soft and flexible when unaged. 7. the insulation is called a composite insulation system.and fire-resistant rubber. hardness. if any Conductor stranding and tinning Understanding the properties of unaged cable is critical to identifying the aging of a cable system. The Hypalon can become the controlling factor during the aging process. such as EPR insulation with neoprene or Hypalon jacketing. 1 Induction period: The period in the early life of a material in which physical properties are stable or change very little. However. the hardening of Hypalon is a leading indicator of aging. PVC. When the Hypalon is bonded to the EPR during manufacture. The material hardens with age much more rapidly than EPR and XLPE. It will remain hard to the touch but will not harden or stiffen appreciably with age. such as XLPE. chemical tests must be performed in a laboratory. thus. Others change very little until they are extremely advanced in age.2 Expected Changes with Aging Some cable materials experience significant physical change as they age. XLPE-insulated conductors are generally covered with a jacket material. Very little change will be observable in the material during aging. but more often used as a cable jacket. neoprene. Understanding the attributes of the aging of materials allows assessment of continued ability to function. plastic insulation. 7-3 . The following summarizes some of the attributes that might be observed: CSPE – chlorosulfonated polyethylene(see Hypalon) EPR – ethylene propylene rubber is a relatively soft insulation that ages very slowly. XLPE – cross-linked polyethylene is a relatively hard. In nuclear plant cables. To discern the degree of aging. The material ages faster than the insulation it covers. Knowing the unaged state allows the inspector to detect color.

Working on tall ladders or scaffolds might require harness training for the inspector/testers. plants. however. the plasticizer might migrate to the surface of the cable and be observed as a sticky film. plants but might be used as an overall jacket or as a jacket over conductor insulation such as butyl rubber. the material is not used in containment safety-related applications. the common insulations age slowly and might not provide useful indications of aging for detection by visual/manual means.and oil-resistant. neoprene. The training aids contain individual insulated conductors and related cables in the unaged state. but require radiological protection surveys for areas above that height. The trainee can determine the visual and tactile differences by examining and manipulating the samples. as well as with four steps of thermal aging. Given that most of the cable 7-4 . The HCl ions become conductive when exposed to steam. Neoprene jacketing can also be used as a leading indicator of aging for the insulations it covers. the 7 material softens with a 20% change in properties identifiable at 10 rads [5].EPRI Licensed Material In-Plant Cable Evaluation Neoprene – chloroprene is a rubber used as an overall jacket that is solvent. The PVC conductor jacket can be used as an aging indicator. Butyl rubber – an earlier insulation. However. Therefore. Such a requirement will greatly hamper evaluation of low-voltage cables. Under certain conditions. 7.S. The aids illustrate construction of commonly used I&C cables and show how the insulations and jackets age.S. In some cases. the material hardens as the plasticizer evaporates. do experience physical hardening that can be observed.4 Initial Inspection Efforts Prior to attempting an assessment of a large number of cables during an outage. Some plants have areas that are clean from the floor to approximately 7 feet (213 cm). Some plants might also not allow work of any kind on energized circuits. Under irradiation. In summary. this material hardens with age. PVC is generally not used as an insulation in safety-related applications in U. excess plasticizer and chlorine residue might be observed as a green residue at the conductor interface at terminations. Even with short ladders. the common jacketing materials. Like Hypalon. some administrative controls might require harness/height training. and PVC (the least common). it ages more rapidly than Hypalon for a given aging condition. PVC insulation might be more common in non-safety applications in U. Butyl rubber will harden under thermal aging. Under severe radiation exposures. new inspectors should perform a trial effort in an easy-to-access area that requires little staging beyond a small ladder. An EPRI report. PVC insulation will create HCl ions. used infrequently in U. nuclear power plants. greatly reducing the insulation resistance of the material.S. PVC – polyvinyl chloride is a plastic insulation requiring a plasticizer to allow it to be flexible. Hypalon. Training Aids for Visual/Tactile Inspection of Electrical Cables for Detection of Aging [6]. describes training aids that have been developed to teach personnel how cables will age. Under thermal aging. Hands-on inspection or testing of medium-voltage cables should be limited to de-energized circuits for worker safety. The material often has a PVC conductor jacket.

or at least knowing where one can be obtained. What looks possible to assess on an equipment layout drawing often does not reflect the in-plant reality. Having a ladder available for the inspections. Creativity in acquiring the information needed from the inspection is necessary.5 Identification of Cable Circuits Within the Plant The new inspector will be able to understand the difficulty of locating the cable of interest even under easy conditions and even when a formal planning effort has been performed. pens Inspection mirror Camera (digital if possible) Sturdy carrying bags for noted items (Beware of plastic bags with seams that might split when loaded. conduits. If the cable is located in a tray. paper. is important. and electrical outlets when needed.) The initial effort should be limited to areas with no radiation contamination and easy access to a few trays and junction boxes. The experienced electrician might also know where the trays. and without elevated temperature and confined workspace constraints. review of the installation can provide insight into whether aging will be significant or if evaluation of another inspectable cable will provide the needed insight. Large drawings are cumbersome to handle in radiologically controlled areas. An attempt will then have to be made to identify the circuit of interest. greatly reducing the time needed to hunt for these items and. The inspector will need some or all of the following: • • • • • • • • • • Flashlights Drop lights and extension cords Ladders Screwdriver/wrench for opening junction boxes and removing tray covers Wipe rags Layout maps for identifying circuit locations (Reduced size drawings are recommended. greatly reducing the time needed for the inspection.) Clipboard. The inspector must be flexible in the approach chosen. the tray will first have to be identified. This will allow the inspector to understand some of the challenges of doing an inspection. 7-5 . Oftentimes. and equipment associated with the cables are located. tools. Having an experienced electrician as an inspection team member will assure being able to find ladders. 7. the need for radiation surveys can provide an additional impediment to cable inspection. thus.EPRI Licensed Material In-Plant Cable Evaluation system is located 7 feet (213 cm) or more above the floor. without having radiation protection clothing and gloves to impede the inspection. Chasing items through gratings in containment is not a desirable pastime. Cables are rarely located in areas that are convenient for inspections.

Some early cables were not labeled. many cables of the same type. following its routing through the tray can still be difficult unless cables have been laid in the tray in an orderly fashion. Again. Knowing some basic characteristics of the cable of interest might be enough to allow focus of the assessment on a specific grouping of cables. although a few plants identify circuits on each side of a fire stop. the number of different types of cables in the tray. however. texture. Identification of specific cables within conduit systems can be relatively easy unless numerous cables are located in very large conduits. placing a radio signal on the cable and using a receiver to identify the cable along its run is possible. the level of similarity between the cable types in the tray. following the conduit will assure identification of the cable. the surface area available for inspection will be minimal and flexing the cable to assess stiffness might be nearly impossible. Access to the cable will only be possible at junction and pull boxes or condulets along the run. One way to follow a specific cable is to wrap a strip of paper or tie wrap around the cable and pass it along.EPRI Licensed Material In-Plant Cable Evaluation Within trays. a 3 conductor. greatly increasing the difficulty of accessing the boxes. oftentimes. 12 AWG. To assess cables located in conduits. if the circuit uses a Rockbestos 3/C 12 AWG. manufacturer. While evaluation of the low-voltage cable is possible. the cable can be identified but. such cables will easily be differentiated from 4 conductor or 7 conductor cables in the same tray. but less difficult than identification of a specific cable in a full tray. 12 AWG cable will be significantly different in size from a 7 conductor. only one cable. and the labeling on the cables themselves. In reality. If there is only one cable of a specific type that is of interest in a tray filled with cables of a different type. If it is imperative to follow a single cable. load centers. in most cases. Oftentimes. few if any specific cable circuits are identified. Even this might not be practical because the cable weaves through the population of cables surrounding it. At either end of a circuit. identification of a specific cable in a tray might not be critical. a number of cables of the same type are located with a tray so that the cable of interest might not be distinguishable. Use of large conduits with a number of cables will make the identification of a specific cable more complicated. However. If a specific cable can be identified within a tray. Therefore. Permission to access such spaces might be necessary and the help of an electrician might also be required. XLPE cable. these might be located at ceiling level or above openings in the floor. In many cases. Come companies use condulets. This is not practical. Conduits are labeled in power plants and can be traced from one end to another via the labeling. The constraints of disconnection and reconnection of the cables and tracing the radio signal will generally be very significant with respect to the importance of the information gathered. the back 7-6 . or from a twisted shielded pair 16 AWG instrument cable. distinguishing between cable types has to be done based on color. the inspector will have to locate junction and pull boxes that can be opened for access. For example. and construction are located in a tray. conduits contain very few cables. which is rare. tracing it might be possible. and size. This might reduce the assessment to a dozen similar cables within a tray. and sometimes. However. if a large number of cables need to be traced. Very few plants label cables along their routes within trays. The degree of difficulty will depend on the number of cables in the tray. and motor control centers. Therefore. following that cable for any appreciable distance in a loaded tray will be difficult if not impossible. Additional areas for accessing cables are back planes of switchgear. Access to cables might be made in “el” fittings. For example.

Test tools will need to be covered to protect them from being contaminated.EPRI Licensed Material In-Plant Cable Evaluation planes of these types of equipment are generally dangerous because of exposed energized bus bar and termination connectors.6. often requires extended efforts to clear health physics check points. closing of the cover. Extreme caution is required when inspecting cable condition in the vicinity of exposed energized components. Portable computers become particularly slippery when covered with a plastic sheath.6. a walkdown and/or inspection of the cables in those locations would be desirable. If the assessment indicates some severe environment locations. are located well above floor level. due consideration must be given to protecting equipment used in the inspection and in gaining access and egress within radiation zones. Special test equipment such as the Indenter will need to be covered. Accordingly. and connection of cabling. Such a walkdown will confirm that the assessment is conservative and that there is no immediate or near-term concern for unacceptable aging of the cable system.7 Walkdowns and Inspections The assessment of the adverse environments and the interview results will indicate the current status of the cable system and the degree of aging to be expected. A short practice session to gain experience in handling the computer when covered might prevent dropping the device with a resulting delay in completing the cable evaluation. and their associated inspection points.2 Working at Heights Many cables and trays. while useful for making notes and drawings. Training of inspectors might be required for use of harnesses and working with ladders and scaffolds. Paper. 7-7 . 7. even if the assessment does not indicate that conditions are severe. A practice session for carrying and using the computer with coverings in place is recommended to verify that these efforts can be performed while wearing gloves.6 In-Plant Work Considerations 7. 7. limited amounts should be taken on any inspection. The covering should not impede use of the keyboard. necessitating climbing and work on scaffolds. consideration should be given to reducing the amount of paper and extraneous material brought into the work area. Clear coverings will be required for personal computers.1 Work Within Radiation Zones In addition to protection of personnel. 7. The application of coverings should be attempted well before in-plant use to allow special coverings to be devised and a scheme for application and removal to be verified for acceptability. as will the associated computer. Before making inspections in a radiologically controlled area. If a plant is 20 to 25 years old. a walkdown and general evaluation of the worst-case areas from the assessment is recommended.

While most circuits will either be within trays or conduits. chemical. Details of such an assessment are provided in Appendix A of EPRI report TR-109619 [3]. In this approach. The evaluation concentrates on the cables. such as physical damage. The heat and 7-8 . aging-induced degradation will continue to worsen or could impact the life of the replacement cable as well. The condition of the local wiring. improper support. However. they should be corrected as soon as possible because they could have an immediate impact on function.1 Types of Walkdown/Inspection Spaces/Room-Based The evaluation of a room or section of the plant lends itself to a coordinate-based assessment. and might be coordinated with work on the end device to reduce the number of invasive activities. the degree of damage observed must be considered in relation to the period over which the damage occurred. Long-term aging effects might be severe enough to warrant immediate action. If a cable ages in 30 years or more. and field cable is evaluated. replacement of the cable is probably not necessary for a plant that will only operate to 60 years. If a cable ages severely in four to eight years.EPRI Licensed Material In-Plant Cable Evaluation The walkdown/inspection should concentrate on the worst-case environments first. This type of assessment is useful in evaluating a room known or suspected of having a severe normal environment with respect to cable. and inadvertent adverse environment conditions (for example. Once the cables within the zone have been evaluated.7. If no aging is observed. or incorrect thermal insulation of adjacent equipment) are observed. terminations. and conduits within the zone being inspected. Motor Control Center (MCC). If moderate aging is detected at 55 years. oil contamination. a room or plant space is divided into specific zones of small enough size that a detailed inspection of the zone is possible. trays. The inspection of the cable can be limited to severe normal environment zones and not cover the sections that are clearly in benign areas. and the conditions have been documented on paper and with a camera. the functionality of the cable system is improved and further damage should not occur. or control panel). the next zone is evaluated until the complete space has been evaluated. no matter how interesting a condition might be outside of the particular zone. Inspection results should be grouped into two categories: 1) conditions of immediate concern and 2) long-term aging effects. This will probably require opening of junction boxes and electrical housing covers. penetration. Therefore. even if severe degradation is not observed. the path for the cable can be assessed even if the cable cannot be directly observed. If conditions of immediate concern. walkdown/inspection of the next less severe environment areas should be scheduled to confirm that the scope of aging degradation is known. then one replacement over the plant life will suffice and redesign of the application is probably not necessary. The rate of aging needs to be understood. 7. Specific Cable/End Device-Based In this approach. the condition of a specific cable is evaluated starting with the end device and working toward the source of the cable (for example. Once such conditions are corrected. The zones can be defined by structural members or by distinct rooms within the space to be evaluated. It is also useful for assessing the overall health of a cable system. then the remainder of the plant should be acceptable. the wrong cable has been used for the application or it is in an inappropriate location. If unacceptable aging is observed.

in other words. The thermal insulation on the process piping should be assessed where the piping is adjacent to the trays and conduits to verify that it is in place and undamaged.EPRI Licensed Material In-Plant Cable Evaluation radiation sources along the route of the cable can be evaluated. only problems should be documented. 7. If the route of the cable passes in close proximity to hot process piping or the trays or conduits are located above hot process lines.2 Documentation of Findings The findings should be documented on an exception basis. Acceptable conditions for cable and supporting components must be defined so that future assessors can understand the results. Some examples of acceptable conditions are: Tray Systems • • • • • • Support brackets are sound and anchored Covers (when provided) are in place and properly clamped No physical damage to trays No extraneous material (for example. However. If the cables are in trays. Cases have been observed where thermal lagging was perfect on the side that was easy to observe but severely damaged on the side of the high temperature equipment facing the tray. for exceptions-based documentation to be most useful. a localized assessment of the cables in the tray could be performed. Care should be given in evaluating the thermal insulation on the side of high temperature equipment facing toward the tray or conduit. consideration should be given to differences in environment during periods of operation and shutdown. consideration should be given to the degree to which these conditions could affect the cables. a clearly documented statement of what is acceptable at the time of the assessment needs to be developed and retained.7. If the assessment is performed during a plant outage. tools and trash) is in trays Cables lay properly in the tray and do not cross over edges or lay perpendicular to axis of tray across edges Cable drop-outs from trays are padded or otherwise protect cable from sharp edges of trays or conduits Conduits • • • • • Conduits are appropriately anchored Connections between sections of conduit are not separated Cable entry to conduit is padded to protect cable (bell or other padding provided) Flexible conduits are coupled to mating junction boxes and conduits Flexible conduit coverings and conduit itself are undamaged Vertical Conduits and Trays • Vertical runs of cables are provided with supports appropriate to run length and weight of cable 7-9 .

repairs or replacements were performed). see discussion below) Cable jacket and insulation hardness is as expected and is neither significantly harder nor softer than expected Liquids are not leaching from surface or oozing from the conductor Liquids or steam are not impinging upon cable from external sources Medium-Voltage Cables (where visible) Same as low-voltage cables plus: • • • Cables are not subjected to tight bends Corona attach of insulation or jacket has not occurred (see description) Cable is not pinched by supports The detailing of what is acceptable is the basis for the assessment and also the starting point for future assessments. the current assessment would evaluate the corrected conditions in comparison to the acceptable condition rather than an as-left condition. nor equipment or conditions that could expose the cables to 7-10 . The surroundings of the cables should be observed in an assessment. drip loops exist on wires coming from higher than the termination and conduits do not drain onto terminal strips Low-Voltage Cables (where visible) • • • • • • No cracks in jacket or exposed insulation No cuts in jacket or insulation Cables are not discolored (no burn marks or other visual indication of stress (Note: bloom is acceptable. If there are neither adverse conditions in the surroundings. when terminal blocks are used. if corrections were made (for example.EPRI Licensed Material In-Plant Cable Evaluation • • Cable is not pinched at top of run from weight of unsupported cable Cable supports are in satisfactory condition and have not failed Junction Boxes • • • Covers are in place and secured In high-energy line break (HELB) and loss-of-coolant accident (LOCA) areas. recording the acceptable condition is as important to documenting the results of an assessment as recording the exceptions. The exceptions from the previous assessment (if they were deemed unnecessary to correct but important to track) will be included for review during the current assessment. weephole is provided and open For boxes in wet areas and HELB and LOCA zones. Of course. Accordingly. the acceptable basis for the previous assessment will be either kept or updated with new information and insights. At the time of a future assessment.

Repairs to conduits and tray systems are also included as one-time conditions unless the condition was caused by an agerelated deterioration. Identification of adverse stressors would indicate the need for tracking the condition of cables in the vicinity at a shortened inspection interval. Certain adverse conditions are one-time corrections and do not require re-inspection. steam impingement. Such conditions include the repair of cuts and the removal of trash from trays. chemical attack). Intervals should be adjusted based on the severity of the condition identified and the condition of the cables upon inspection. vibration. These conditions could be listed as no unacceptable conditions or stressors found.EPRI Licensed Material In-Plant Cable Evaluation significant stress (heat. 7-11 . then deterioration of the cable system in that area is unlikely. radiation.


IEEE Std. TR-109619. Guideline for the Management of Adverse Localized Equipment Environments. IEEE Standard for Qualifying Class 1E Equipment for Nuclear Power Generating Stations.: 2002. Review of Emerging Technologies for Condition Assessment of Underground Distribution Cable Assets. Field Splices. Palo Alto. EPRI. Department of Energy. Palo Alto. and Connections for Nuclear Power Generating Stations. 383–1974. 8-1 . 323–1974 and–1983. Palo Alto. 3. Radiation Data for Design and Qualification of Nuclear Plant Equipment. Palo Alto.EPRI Licensed Material 8 REFERENCES 1. EPRI. Washington.C. CA: 1985. CA and U. IEEE Std. 6. D. EPRI. 4. EPRI. IEEE Standard for Type Test of Class 1E Electric Cables.S. 2. CA: TR-114333. 1001391. CA: 1999. 5. Training Aids for Visual/Tactile Inspection of Electrical Cables for Detection of Aging. Version 1974 and Version 1983. NP-4172SP.



EPRI Licensed Material Cable System Aging Management Flow Chart A-2 .

EPRI Licensed Material Cable System Aging Management Flow Chart A-3 .


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