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Radiation Protection

Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (TENORM) Study

On Jan. 15, 2015, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced the results of its TENORM Study, which analyzed the naturally occurring levels of radioactivity associated with oil and natural gas development in Pennsylvania. While the study outlines recommendations for further study, it concluded there is little potential for harm to workers or the public from radiation exposure due to oil and gas development.

Note: DEP revised the 2015 TENORM Study report on May 18, 2016, to correct errors in the data tables, inconsistent use of significant figures, and some typos. In addition, DEP has published a new Appendix M that contains the non-radiological data generated and collected that was not with the scope of the study. The revised study report is posted below. A second version of the revised report that shows the edits is also available below.

Technologically Enhance Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (TENORM) Study Report (updated 5/18/2016) (PDF)

Appendix A: Additional Geological Information (PDF)

Appendix B: Field Instrumentation QC Documentation (PDF)

Appendix C: Gamma Spectroscopy Analytical Results (PDF)

Appendix D: Total and Removable Alpha/Beta Surface Radioactivity Results (PDF)

Appendix E: Gross Gamma Radiation Survey Figures (PDF)

Appendix F: XRF Analytical Analyses Results (PDF)

Appendix G: T-test Output Files (PDF)

Appendix H: Radon Monitor/Sample Analytical Analyses Reports

Appendix I: Filtered Versus Unfiltered Liquid Sample Comparison (PDF)

Appendix J: MicroShield® Output Files (PDF)

Appendix K: Laboratory Data Reports

Appendix L: Peer Review Comment and Resolution Document (PDF)

Appendix M: Non-Radiological Data Generated & Collected (PDF)

Archive of TENORM Study Documents:

On Jan. 24, 2013, the Department of Environmental Protection announced it will study the naturally occurring levels of radioactivity in materials associated with oil and gas development. Beginning in early 2013, DEP began to analyze the radioactivity levels in flowback waters, treatment solids and drill cuttings, as well as issues with transportation, storage and disposal of drilling wastes, the levels of radon in natural gas, and potential exposure to workers and the public.

The Department of Environmental Protection is committed to ensuring the development and use of Pennsylvania's oil and natural gas occurs in an environmentally responsible manner. DEP will undertake one of the most extensive and comprehensive studies ever done to examine the levels of naturally occurring radiation in a variety of equipment, materials and media associated with oil and gas development, as well as the potential environmental impact and exposure to the public and workers.

Monitoring for Radioactive Materials in Solid Waste

1991 Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (NORM) Study (PDF)

Information on Well Logging and Industrial Radiography

Certain well logging techniques involve the use of tools containing radioactive material within a wellbore to determine various underground formation properties such as porosity, shale content, and density. This helps the industry to better locate the rich oil and gas deposits that may be present.

Industrial Radiography is a primary method of non-destructive testing used to ensure the integrity of equipment and structures such as pipes, welded joints, castings, and other devices. It involves using radioactive sources to inspect materials for hidden flaws by utilizing the ability of gamma rays to penetrate various materials. This type of activity is commonplace on many oil and gas well sites or any industry pipeline running throughout Pennsylvania.

The application to acquire a Pennsylvania Radioactive Materials License for well logging and industrial radiography can be found on the Bureau's Radioactive Materials New Licenses webpage.

Guidance information for well logging or industrial radiography is available at: U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

For more information on Radiation Protection, please visit the Bureau of Radiation Protection homepage.