Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM)

Over the past century adequate attention had not been given to the chemical and nuclear NORM wastes. This refers to radioactive waste indirectly connected to the production of nuclear energy. Huge amounts of low NORM wastes are the result of mining and industrial activities of companies engaged in the processing of natural raw materials. Mining technology and technological equipment for stocking, transportation and production of crude oil, natural gas and uranium accumulate a certain degree of radioactive contamination. Radioactive accumulation is created by coating, which is caused by progressive saturation of the surface microstructure of the material by radio nuclides and salts of heavy metals. Radio nuclides and salts are bound to the surfaces of the material and equipment, which is in direct contact with crude oil, natural gas and uranium. This radioactive coating is classified as NORM CONTAMINATION. Radioactivity dangerously and uncontrollably leaks away during the production, transportation, stocking and processing of crude oil, natural gas and uranium. At the beginning of 1990 the A.P.I. (American Petroleum Institute) carried out a research concerning NORM wastes. It was discovered that wastes of the NORM class in the form of dirt, mud, incrustation, corrosion and scales are very dangerous. The results conclusively show the volume of the registered NORM waste equalled 10 million 55 gallon barrels. According to verified information regarding the exploration of the natural raw materials, the annual production of NORM wastes originated during the Processing of crude oil, natural gas and uranium correspond to 500 thousand 55 gallon barrels. Some reports even indicate volume to be as high as 4 times greater. The waste from the nuclear power plants is strictly registered, secured and put in storage. However, insufficient attention is given to NORM wastes. At present, NORM wastes are regarded as a low radioactive type of waste. However, after careful analysis, it can be concluded that this type of waste grows and grows at an uncontrollable rate. Volume of the waste only gets larger and larger. In addition, it is also far more dangerous than waste that comes from nuclear power plants. As well as the problem with the accumulation of NORM radio nuclides, there is also an existing problem with the radioactive contamination of the equipment for mining of crude oil, natural gas and uranium. This radioactive contamination of the technical equipment is a common problem for some deposits in many countries, including Russia, Kazakhstan, Iran, Syria, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, U.S.A., Malaysia, Australia and R.S.A. among others. The radiation in the immediate environment of the mining and transport capacities often reaches as high as 10.000 uR/h, which exceeds the natural radiation rate by 1000 times. The source of the radioactivity presents itself in a coating that is lodged in the microstructure surface of the technical equipment used. Isotopes of radium, thorium and barium are the primary radioactive elements. To resolve this common problem it was necessary to create a new technology that would enable a 100% removal of this radioactive coating without the volume of NORM waste being increased or negatively transformed. The retrieved NORM waste should be minimized and chemically stable in order to prevent any leakage during long term storage. International Fatum Technologies, together with the Institute of Nuclear Physics of the National Nuclear Center of Kazakhstan, has developed a highly effective technology that addresses and solves this problem.

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