Environmental Impacts of NORM Disposal--With Emphasis on Discharges to Sea
- Jens R. Valeur (Ramboll Oil & Gas)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Projects, Facilities & Construction
- Publication Date
- September 2011
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 124 - 131
- 2011. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 6.5.4 Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials, 6.5.3 Waste Management, 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 1.2.3 Rock properties
- NORM, Radioactive waste, Disposal, Environmental Impact
- 5 in the last 30 days
- 288 since 2007
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Waste of naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) poses a challenge to operators and authorities alike.
This paper reviews legislation and practices regarding NORM waste management in the North Sea countries, with emphasis on the potential environmental impacts. The paper gives an overview of mechanisms causing NORM in the oil and gas industry, the various disposal methods, the legal regime, and the fate and effects in the external environment.
NORM in produced water mainly consists of two forms of radium (RA), Ra-226 and Ra-228, which have been dissolved from the geological materials of the reservoir. Parts of the dissolved Ra precipitate as RaSO4 in the process equipment onboard the installation (mainly in the separation systems), associated with precipitation of BaSO4 and SrSO4. If discharged to the sea, the vast majority of the dissolved Ra precipitates as RaSO4 or adsorbs to fine-grained particles and particulate organic matter. When assessing the fate and effects of NORM in the external environment, it is therefore essential to analyze both the fine-grained-sediment-transport pathways and the uptake mechanisms of marine life.
The strong particle association of Ra must be taken into account when evaluating the possible environmental impacts of solid-NORM waste disposal (e.g., from maintenance of equipment, decommissioning of installations). Reinjection of NORM into the geological reservoir can be seen as an optimal way of disposing of NORM waste, but the approach taken by different countries varies, depending on how the London Convention and the OSPAR Radioactive Substances Strategy are interpreted and implemented.
It is concluded that the NORM waste issue is not handled optimally in all cases with respect to health, safety, and environmental (HSE) impacts, partly because of the constellation of international conventions and national practices that is applied with significant variation from country to country.
|File Size||2 MB||Number of Pages||8|
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