The long-term shifts of corrosion potential are important in predicting the likelihood of localized corrosion and stress corrosion cracking (SCC) of carbon steel used for storing radioactive wastes in underground storage tanks. Although considerable work has been done in understanding the passivity and corrosion potential of steel in various electrolytes, an important aspect of the current work is in assessing the effects of multiyear exposures of steel in waste simulants and their effects on corrosion potential. It is shown that SCC susceptibility of steel in nitrate increases at the long-term corrosion potential in solutions without organics (either by applying that potential or letting the corrosion potential increase over time). The long-term increase in corrosion potential results principally from a decrease in the passive current density with time of exposure. The present work shows that such a reduction in passive current density is accompanied by changes in the semi-conductive properties of the passive film, which itself may be a result of changes in stoichiometry of the film over time. Nitrite reduction is the most likely cathodic reaction with a small contribution from oxygen reduction. However, the presence of organic species in the environment can result in additional anodic reactions that may decrease the corrosion potential.

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