Naturally occurring radioactive material, or NORM, is everywhere. It is in the air, the ground, our food, and even our own bodies. Most of the time it is not present in high enough concentrations to warrant removal or decontamination, but sometimes it reaches levels of concentrations that are unsuitable for humans. In these cases, a waste management company needs to evaluate the site and conduct NORM disposal and site decontamination.
Where is NORM found?
When NORM is at dangerous concentrations, it is often found in mining and manufacturing industries. Materials like fly ash, refining sludge, and grit from industrial operations usually contain radioactive particles that can reach dangerous concentrations over time.
Kinds of NORM
NORM is commonly broken down into two categories: discrete and diffuse. Discrete NORM is more radioactive and less widespread than diffuse NORM. The source of diffuse NORM may be less apparent and the effects of it more far-reaching. Because of its scale, diffuse NORM poses more of a regulatory problem than discrete.
NORM regulations and disposal
NORM, and the technologically enhanced TENORM, are not completely federally regulated. Based on the Atomic Energy Act, they do not fall under the authority of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission either. With that said, NORM may be regulated by the RCRA if components of NORM waste also meet the EPA definition of hazardous waste, but it will not be considered mixed waste, because it is an AEA exception.
Most of the requirements for NORM disposal and decontamination are at the state level. Because there is no cohesive NORM disposal regulation among the states, the waste management company that your business employs to handle these radioactive materials must be well-versed in local laws to ensure that you are operating in compliance with relevant legislation.
For more information on NORM disposal and hazardous waste management, reach out to Clean Management’s experienced professionals.