The management and disposal of Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material(NORM) scale is oil and gas industry issue which attracts public andinternational interest. NORM, as low activity radioactive waste, presentsspecial handling and disposal challenges due its potential risk to personnel, health, long term effects on food chains, habitats and future generations.Media influence on public perception of radioactivity often eclipses logic andsound technical argument, will be reviewed as part of risk management.
A critique of current NORM decontamination techniques offshore and onshorewill be presented in terms of HSE and other risks, together with insights intothe future. Estimates of NORM scale generation in oil and gas and plannedfuture decommissioning demand an acceptable NORM management strategy for thefuture.
NORM disposal is an issue where the industry must "walk the talk" onsustainable development and not leave an accumulating problem which may impairfuture generations. A comparison will be made between the acceptable dischargeof NORM and radionuclides in production water offshore and the accepteddisposal options available from onshore decontamination (inshore discharge, storage or onshore re-injection). A summary of approaches to NORM managementand disposal in North Sea and other counties facing this issue will bepresented. The case for NORM reinjection offshore (in an isolated reservoir)will be addressed, although it has not been accepted as a disposal route todate in the UK. Re-injection is widely practiced in the USA.
NORM management and disposal options will be considered in terms of riskmanagement (safety, health environment, sustainable development, financial/reputation) together with a formula for risk ranking geared todecision making. This can be used by the industry to enhance publicunderstanding of radioactivity, and promote convergence in decision making byindustry and stakeholders on the risks and benefits of NORM disposaloptions.