A Risk-Based Approach to Subsurface NORM Disposal

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by Gustavious Williams,
Karen Smith,
Deborah Blunt,
David Tomasko,
John Arnish,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: WRPMD'99: Preparing for the 21st Century

Abstract: (No paper) Naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) has become an environmental concern for the petroleum industry. NORM scales results when naturally occurring radium co-precipitates with barium to create radiative sulfate or carbonate scales with activities ranging up to 80,000 pCi/g. There are a number of subsurface disposal options for these scales. This paper presents a risk based evaluation of the groundwater ingestion pathway for two disposal options: deep well injection and RCRA Class D landfills. The studies are based on two field sites. The deep well injection options were evaluated for NORM disposal in the Permian basin of west Texas and south-east New Mexico. NORM concentrations, volumes, and detail of the injection wells from three production sites were used to develop the disposal and exposure scenarios. The landfill disposal option was evaluated for a site in northern Michigan. NORM volumes and the details of the landfill were based on actual sites. This paper presents the methods used for evaluation, source term descriptions, the models developed for radionuclide transport, and the exposure scenarios used for health risk. It was found that neither disposal option presents significant health risk from groundwater ingestion for the typical volumes of NORM (100 barrels) used as a source term.

Subject Headings: Risk management | Subsurface environment | Health hazards | Injection wells | Landfills | Field tests | Radioactive materials | North America | United States | Michigan | Texas | New Mexico

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