Radioactive Waste Material From Tapping Natural Resources
Rocks around oil and gas and mineral deposits may contain natural radioactivity. Drilling through these rocks
and bringing them to the surface creates radioactive waste materials.
     Once minerals have been removed from ore, the radionuclides left in the waste are more concentrated.
     Scientists call this waste Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material. It is
      generally referred to as TENORM (pronounced tee' norm).

About Radioactive Waste Material From Tapping Natural Resources
Radionuclides are found naturally in almost all soils and rocks.
Usually they are safely below the surface, away from people.
However, below the surface is also where many natural
resources we use are located. Mining operations that bring
resources to the surface also bring up materials containing
                                                                       Oil drilling rig.
The naturally radioactive materials brought to the surface and/or
concentrated by industrial processes are a special kind of waste.
Scientists call it Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring
Radioactive Material, or simply TENORM (pronounced tee'
norm). Radionuclides in TENORM are mostly radium-226,
radium-228' and radon gas". The level of radioactivity in
TENORM can vary widely.

TENORM can exist in solids, liquids, muds and/or gases. They
can come from different parts of the mineral extraction
processes. Here are a few examples:

     Overburden - Soil and rocks that have been moved out
      of the way to get to the necessary ores are called
      overburden. In areas where there are high
      concentrations of radionuclides in the rock, overburden
      may contain relatively high levels of radioactivity.
      Typically, it contains  little radioactive material.

     Tailings - Tailings or mill tailings are left over from
      processing ore to extract a desired mineral. The mineral
      may be radioactive, like uranium, or not, like gold. Taking
      out part of the ore leaves a smaller, but more
      concentrated volume of radionuclides.

     Pipe Scale - When water is pumped in and out of well
      and storage tanks a coating called pipe scale is created. Pipe scale is made up of the natural minerals
      found in water, which sometimes include radionuclides. Radioactivity in pipe scale can be quite high.
                                                           Abandoned Davis mine in Colorado with pile
                                                                  of overburden shown in front
  United States Environmental Protection Agency | Office of Radiation and Indoor Air (6608T) | EPA 402-F-14-040 | August 2014 |  p. 1

Mining wastes must be properly contained. Otherwise, the radionuclides in these wastes can spread to
surrounding areas. The movement of radionuclides in the environment depends on how well they dissolve in
water (solubility). For example, radium is more soluble than uranium. Therefore, it more easily spreads around
the environment.

Rules and Guidance


EPA is responsible for setting federal radiation standards for exposure to TENORM. While there is not a single
comprehensive TENORM regulation, EPA has developed standards for the oil and gas industries through
several laws. Laws include:

      Clean Air Act"1.

      Clean Water Activ.

      Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)V.

      Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA)vi.

Some states set limits to control TENORM that is produced through oil and gas drilling extraction. Most states
also  use the federal Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and other environmental laws to protect people from
drilling wastes.


DOE provides funding for research on the  use and disposal of radioactive materials that come from developing
energy sources.

What you can do

TENORM is not typically a hazard for the general public. Workers are the most likely group to be exposed to
TENORM. To learn more about oil and gas drilling sites in your area, you can search online or contact your
state geological survey or health department. Also,  be sure to avoid mining or oil and gas production sites and
abandoned equipment and never handle, dispose of or re-use abandoned equipment used at drilling sites.

Where to learn more

You  can learn more about radioactive waste  material from tapping natural resources by visiting the  resources
available on the following webpage:
iv .cfm
  United States Environmental Protection Agency |  Office of Radiation and Indoor Air (6608T) | EPA 402-F-14-040 | August 2014 | p. 2