Abstract: NORM in the Oil and Gas Industry
W. A. (Buck) Steingraber
Naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM) has been found in the earth's crust and soil, the water we drink, the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the tissues of every living organism. It is relatively easy to determine "concentrations" or specific activity levels in the range of one part per trillion for radioactive materials. With radioactive elements so abundant and detection possible at such low levels, the presence of NORM in oil and gas operations shouldn't be surprising. In fact, this presence has been recognized since at least the 1930s, but the phenomenon received only minimal attention in the United States until the mid-1980s. At that time regulatory agencies in several oil- and gas-producing states began to focus on NORM in the exploration and production segment of he industry, expressing concern over potential health and safety implications. This paper will address the most significant aspects of NORM in the oil patch by discussing original source, transport media, composition/radionuclides present, measurement methods, health/safety issues, waste classification, and waste disposal. In addition, an update will be given on industry NORM data collection and analysis efforts being conducted to aid in development of sound policies and procedures to address environmental, health, and safety issues. Current activities by state and federal regulatory agencies dealing with NORM in the oil and gas industry will also be reviewed.
AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90983©1994 GCAGS and Gulf Coast SEPM 44th Annual Meeting, Austin, Texas, October 6-7, 1994