A methodological and structured procedure to address the uncertainties related to passive safety functions is presented. The matter is treated with reference to a passive system designed for decay heat removal of advanced light water reactors, relying on natural circulation and provided with a heat exchanger immersed in a cooling pool, acting as heat sink, and connected to the pressure vessel via steam and condensate main lines. Two hazard identification used qualitative methods, as failure mode and effect analysis (FMEA) and hazard and operability study (HAZOP), are utilized and the relative results compared in order to assess the main sources of physical failure. The identification of the sources of uncertainties related to passive system performance, in terms of parameters which drive the failure mechanisms, follows. Finally the uncertainties are evaluated both for their assessment in probabilistic terms and for the determination of most contributors to the system thermal-hydraulic response.
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