Phlorum Provides Offshore TENORM / NORM and Benzene Surveys
Phlorum staff have just returned from south-western Africa, having carried out awareness training and surveys of Technically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (TENORM, or simply NORM) and benzene exposure. This work was for the oil and gas sector and involved working on a series of offshore oil platforms.
Benzene is a known carcinogen that is found in crude oil and natural gas. It can be absorbed through the skin and inhaled as a vapour into the lungs. Long term health impacts can include increased risks of leukaemia and other cancers. Thankfully, exposure can be significantly reduced by increasing ventilation in work areas and through the use of appropriate coveralls and gloves to protect the skin and Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) to filter benzene vapours from the air.
Ionising radiation from NORM is a significant concern to offshore oil and gas workers. This is because irradiation and radioactive contamination risks from NORM can significantly increase from naturally occurring radioactive isotopes concentrating their radioactivity in the form of plaques, scales and sludges in affected pipework and vessels. The main danger of NORM is the spreading and ingestion of radioactive contamination when containment is broken – e.g. from operating valves, changing filters and from vessel clean-out. Consequently, the most effective NORM prevention action usually centres around good housekeeping to quickly identify and clean up any contamination. As ionising radiation cannot be seen, heard or felt, this requires the use of specialist monitoring equipment such as dose gauges and contamination monitors.
Phlorum staff hold various technical qualifications that support our skills in benzene and NORM survey work. These include: certified Radiation Protection Supervisor; Radiation Protection Licence; and membership of the Institute of Air Quality Management. For offshore work we are also BOSIET compliant.