Risk assessment and management of technologically enhanced naturally occurring nuclear radioactive material in the oil and gas industry

Al Nabhani, Khalid (2017) Risk assessment and management of technologically enhanced naturally occurring nuclear radioactive material in the oil and gas industry. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

There is inadequate awareness in the oil and gas industry worldwide about the issue of worker protection from Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Nuclear Radioactive Materials (TENORM), and about the proper disposal of radioactive wastes into the environment. According to the available data on the mass flow and activity concentration of radioactive materials involved in various stages of the oil and gas industry, experts fear that critical clusters in the workforce of the oil and gas industry as well as the general public are at risk of being exposed to different levels of radiation doses, these doses range from low to extremely high levels of radiation under adverse conditions. Such doses often exceed the currently acceptable occupational exposure limits for workers exposed to these materials. However, according to the medical epidemiological and laboratory data, even low doses of exposure can pose the same threat as that of high doses exposure of radiation and eventually increase the chance of developing cancerous diseases. This research attempts to thoroughly investigate the available literature and identify current knowledge and technical gaps associated with the presence of TENORM in the oil and gas industry. Three main gabs have been identified from the available studies that will be addressed in this study and are: 1) workers in the oil and gas industry face a great risk of being exposed to various levels of radioactivity throughout the oil and gas extraction and production life cycles; 2) high volumes of TENORM waste are generated daily from the petroleum industry and have become a serious concern as another source of radiation exposure to workers, the general public and the environment; 3) the lack of a uniform international safety standard, inconsistencies and conflicts in existing regulations and legislation designed to manage TENORM risks in the oil and gas industry, and the inability of these measures to provide enough protection for public health and the environment. The main goal of this thesis is to provide a road map for further research on key gaps it identifies in measures put in place to protect public health and the environment from radiological risk posed by TENORM in the oil and gas industry. To achieve that goal, this thesis presents a new approach of dynamic modelling and quantitative risk assessment of TENORM occupational exposure in the oil and gas industry using SMART approach, which integrates SHIPP (System Hazard Identification, Prediction and Prevention) Methodology And Rational Theory (SMART approach). The SHIPP methodology is a generic framework used to identify, evaluate, and model processes of potential TENORM occupational exposure accidents. Rational theory is used to model accident causation behaviour that usually contributes to its occurrence based on logical, inductive, and probabilistic analysis. The basic premise of rational theory is that an accident occurrence is a result of joint conditional behaviour among different parameters. This thesis also presents an analysis of current TENORM waste disposal methods used in the oil and gas industry that are completely unsafe and unsupported by scientific evaluations or radiological risk assessments from either an engineering or a medical perspective. These disposal methods contribute to serious radiological contamination and pollution that affect humans, the atmosphere, water aquifers, plants, and animals. To assess their effectiveness, a real scenario-based risk assessment of common TENORM waste disposal methods is evaluated and simulated based on a transport and fate model using RESRAD version 6.5. The results of the scenario-based risk assessment are compared with those obtained using a similar simulated scenario constructed from a literature review and medical opinion. Finally, this study highlights the lack of consistency of safety standards related to radiological risks posed by TENORM in the oil and gas industry. It also investigates the main reasons that underlie political conflicts in the reservations about regulating technological risks such as nuclear issues, particularly in the oil and gas industry. There exists a real need for public participatory approach in the formulation of technological risk-management processes. The legislative decision-making is an important first step towards mitigating the technological risks of TENORM exposure in the oil and gas industry as well as maintaining a strong economy. Indeed TENORM exposure is a vital public issue as it concerns workers’ safety and public health. Hence this thesis provides a framework for engaging public participation, which together with government legislation can promote public health and environmental safety, and aim to strike a balance between the interests of the authorities and the interests of the public.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/12620
Item ID: 12620
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 174-196).
Keywords: NORM, TENORM, nuclear, radiological, radionuclide, geochemistry, Uranium, Thorium risk assessment, accident modelling, inhalation, fate and transport, doses, cancer, RESRAD, SMART, SHIPP, technical, knowledge, gaps, scenario, rational, politics, inconsistencies, legislation, public participation, safety, health, oil and gas, occupational, dynamic, barriers, exposures, waste, disposal, environment, shale, gamma, cancer, pathway, upstream, downstream, reactor, gasification Thermo-chemi-nuclear.
Department(s): Engineering and Applied Science, Faculty of
Date: May 2017
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Offshore oil industry--Safety measures; Gas industry--Safety measures; Radioactivity--Safety measures; Radiation--Safety measures

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