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        Environmental Science Division (EVS)
Advancing informed environmental decision making


Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM)

Oil and gas production and processing operations sometimes cause naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) to accumulate at elevated concentrations in by-product waste streams. Regulations governing the management of NORM-containing wastes have been evolving at the state level, resulting in increased waste management costs for the petroleum Industry. EVS has been conducting studies to assess the potential human health risks associated with petroleum industry NORM, estimate the economic impacts associated with different management options, and develop and/or disseminate tools that will streamline oil and gas companies' efforts to manage NORM-containing wastes. EVS has completed radiological risk assessments on a variety of NORM management and disposal options, including underground injection into subsurface formations and salt caverns, landspreading, placement in nonhazardous landfills, and remelting of NORM-contaminated scrap equipment. The results of these assessments have been documented in numerous publications (see Related Publications below).

In addition, EVS developed the NORM Technology Connection website to provide the petroleum industry streamlined access to information relevant to NORM management. The site was developed with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Fossil Energy.

EVS also has demonstrated the potential cost savings that can be realized by applying Adaptive Sampling and Analysis Program (ASAP) approaches to characterization and restoration of NORM-contaminated sites. EVS conducted a successful demonstration of the ASAP approach, which was developed by EVS researchers, at a pipe storage facility in Michigan (see In addition, EVS conducted several workshops on this technical approach for the petroleum industry, its regulators, and NORM service companies. The ASAP approach is consistent with the Triad approach being promoted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency which integrates systematic planning, dynamic work plans, and real-time measurement technologies to achieve more cost-effective waste site cleanup strategies. A profile of EVS's demonstration project in Michigan is available on the EPA's Triad Resource Center (see Item 10 a copy of the full project report is available from this Web site (see The Application of Adaptive Sampling and Analysis Program (ASAP) Techniques to NORM Sites below).