07 Dec What is TENORM?
TENORM is an acronym for Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material.
Rocks and soil contain natural radioactivity, which also dissolves into ground water. The occurrence of these ‘naturally occurring radioactive materials’ (NORM) varies throughout the world, and may be more or less likely given the types of rocks and minerals in a particular area. NORM contributes a part of the natural ‘background’ exposure from radiation.
When resources are extracted from the earth, the natural radioactive material comes with those resources. In processing the desired resource, the radioactive material is removed and becomes a waste. The radioactive wastes from extraction and processing are called ‘Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material’ (TENORM) because human activity has concentrated the radioactivity or increased the likelihood of exposure by making the radioactive material more accessible to human contact.
The most common naturally radioactive elements are uranium, thorium, and radium. Common sources of TENORM waste are mining and mineral processing, oil and gas production, and drinking water and wastewater treatment.
The exposure to individuals from NORM wastes occurs in three main ways. The first is associated with the normal onsite disposal of the waste in piles or impoundments. This type of disposal can lead to groundwater contamination and to airborne releases of radioactive particulates and radon. The second is from the improper use and/or disposal of these wastes. This can lead to build-up of radon gas in homes, direct exposure to individuals located nearby, contamination of soil and the crops growing in that soil, and groundwater contamination. The third way is the reuse of NORM-contaminated materials, such as in concrete aggregate, which could lead to increased radiation risks to members of the public in a variety of ways.
The TENORM from the former Redhill Forest water treatment plant has been removed and the radiation levels are at background levels or below. The waste impoundment has been removed and impacted soils have been transported and disposed at permitted landfills.
The TENORM in the new water treatment plant is contained in the waste containment system and does not pose a health risk to the public or impact to the environment.