Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material in Your Water

NORM means Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material and TENORM stands for Technically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material.   The USEPA states "TENORM is produced when radionuclides that occur naturally in ores, soils, water, or other natural materials are concentrated or exposed to the environment by activities, such as uranium mining or sewage treatment."  Res-Kem sees the potential for TENORM in filters and softeners treating well water in areas where naturally occurring radioactive materials NORM are found.

As a result, Res-Kem will be adding an additional test before we replace media or particularly when entering tanks. We will bring instrumentation to test for TENORM radiation.  Unfortunately, if we detect radiation, we will have to button the system back up and depart.

Again on the USEPA's website "NORM consists primarily of material containing potassium-40 and isotopes belonging to the primordial series. The principal primordial radionuclides are isotopes of heavy elements belonging to the radioactive series headed by the three long-lived isotopes uranium-238 (uranium series), uranium-235 (actinium series), and thorium-232 (thorium series). ... At background concentrations, the naturally occurring radionuclides in the uranium, actinium, and thorium series contribute about one-half of the natural background external radiation, and over 80 percent of the background including radon, to which all humans are continuously exposed."
  From a Clean Harbors bulletin on the subject, typical sources of NORM and TENORM wastes include

• Oil and gas industry
• Geothermal energy production
• Coal combustion
• Mining of uranium and metals
• Phosphate production
• Municipal water treatment
• Abandoned mines and processing facilities
• General manufacturing

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