NORM in Oil & Gas
WHAT IS NORM?
Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM) is widespread in minerals, oil, LNG and residual waste streams. Although the concentration of NORM in most natural substances is low, any operation in which material is extracted from the earth and processed has the potential to concentrate NORM in product, by - product or waste (residue) streams. The generation of products, by – products, residues and wastes containing NORM has potential to lead to exposures to both workers and members of the public, along with environmental impacts.
Improved scheduling and asset availability can be achieved through NORM awareness
The impact upon scheduling can be improved and the production efficiency of the asset can be optimised against the potential generation and accumulation of NORM. This can be achieved by using a structured approach to the management of NORM through robust planning, training, surveillance, analysis and controls.
Prior planning ensures the best control measures for potential NORM
It is prudent for a business to ensure that appropriate proactive planning measures are in place to address any potential NORM issues through the lifecycle of the asset. It is also important that employers and workers are aware of the potential health risk s of NORM accumulation that can Occur at all stages of production and processing of hydrocarbons by suitable education and training.
Knowledge and understanding to maintain safety, compliance and optimised processes
Ensuring that site - based personnel are competent and qualified to identify NORM accumulation, the local radioactivity activity levels and the considerations for safe working procedures, planning support and compliance is essential. Their training and mentoring to do so specific to your project is crucial.
Keep up to date with NORM locations and levels
Implementing a robust surveillance system for NORM generation through effective detection and monitoring, will ensure that workers and the environment are protected in accordance with legislation and regulations. This will identify when and what measures need to be put in place and will provide informed decisions in terms of the NORM management of the asset.
Know where workers can be exposed to NORM and how to prevent hazards to health and safety.
There are two ways that workers may be exposed to NORM. The first of these is external gamma radiation from NORM accumulation within the process plant during normal operations. The second of these is the inhalation or ingestion of alpha/beta emitting materials that are released during maintenance, repairs or replacement campaigns, when containment is breached. Implementing adequate controls through radiation monitoring and planning will effectively manage the NORM risks and therefore mitigate potential radiation exposures for workers to within legal requirements.
Efficient early stage identification and planning for petroleum production and processing waste.
Where the presence of NORM contaminated wastes is found, it is essential to ensure that any wastes are dealt with in a timely and cost efficient manner. NORM waste that is generated must be managed throughout the asset’s life and must be appropriately controlled, stored, the process equipment decontaminated, the waste transported from the asset and waste disposed of in accordance with legal requirements