If you are new to energy and to NORM, you may be wondering what on earth people are talking about, so we have put this quick blog piece together to give you the low down.
What Is NORM?
NORM stands for Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials, there is also TENORM which is Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials, these materials are usually formed from industrial waste or are formed from the by-products of enriched radioactive elements found in the environment.
You can also find natural radioactive elements in the earth’s crust, these can only be brought to the surface with human intervention such as oil and gas mining.
The Hazards Of Working With NORM
Now we have briefly explained what NORM is, let’s move onto some of the hazards and dangers of working with such materials and elements.
The main issues whilst working with NORM is inhalation and ingestion, causing respiratory problems if exposed to large amounts, other issues which can arise are bone cancers and abnormalities, these are usually caused if you are working with NORM which are a product of radium and radon.
Other NORM products actually emit gamma rays, which can penetrate through metal, in this case, you will need to pay close attention to Geiger metres and counters to ensure the rays being emitted do not cause you any damage (sadly, you will not turn into the Hulk).
Quite a few of these products actually build up over time, so if you are not properly protecting yourself whilst at work then you could face long-term health issues in the future.
So now we know what NORM is and what hazards it can pose, we take a quick look at the regulation surrounding it.
In the states NORM is not federally regulated, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) oversees narrow spectrum radiation and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) oversees NORM.
The UK is slightly different and is via Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010.
Taken from Wikipedia the regulations are as follows:
Type 1 NORM industrial activity means:
(a)the production and use of thorium, or thorium compounds, and the production of products where thorium is deliberately added; or
(b)the production and use of uranium or uranium compounds, and the production of products where uranium is deliberately added
Type 2 NORM industrial activity means:
(a)the extraction, production and use of rare earth elements and rare earth element alloys;
(b)the mining and processing of ores other than uranium ore;
(c)the production of oil and gas;
(d)the removal and management of radioactive scales and precipitates from equipment associated with industrial activities;
(e)any industrial activity utilising phosphate ore;
(f)the manufacture of titanium dioxide pigments;
(g)the extraction and refining of zircon and manufacture of zirconium compounds;
(h)the production of tin, copper, aluminium, zinc, lead and iron and steel;
(i)any activity related to coal mine de-watering plants;
(j)china clay extraction;
(k)water treatment associated with provision of drinking water;
or (l)The remediation of contamination from any type 1 NORM industrial activity or any of the activities listed above.
An activity which involves the processing of radionuclides of natural terrestrial or cosmic origin for their radioactive, fissile or fertile properties is not a type 1 NORM industrial activity or a type 2 NORM industrial activity.