Accurate measurements of corrosion potential are important for assessing the likelihood of internal localized corrosion and stress corrosion cracking of carbon steel tanks used for storing radioactive wastes. Reference electrodes in underground radioactive waste storage tanks are challenging to deploy, and more difficult to extract and replace frequently due to radiological exposure and disposal constraints. Hence, electrodes that exhibit stable performance over long periods of immersion in these waste environments are desirable. The present study evaluates the stability of reference electrodes used in radioactive waste storage tanks over a much longer period than previously studied. Long-term tests on Ag/AgCl and Hg/HgO reference electrodes were performed in nonradioactive simulants formulated from wastes stored at the Hanford site. Electrode degradation, which was studied by various in situ and ex situ evaluation techniques, was correlated to changes in electrode fill chemistry from waste intrusion via the porous frit junction. An intentional contamination study was performed to better understand and predict contamination effects on electrode potential drift.

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