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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Radiation in emissions control spotlight

[Thought this article interesting as it highlights how radioactive materials are managed and regulated in other industries and not just nuclear.]


By Upstream staff

Photo by Marit Hommedal

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, the country's Pollution Control Authority and Radiation Protection Authority have recommended that a zero emissions target for petroleum activities be broadened to include radioactive discharges.

The three agencies, in a report for the Norwegian enviroment and oil ministries, said measures to prevent discharges of produced water, which can contain naturally-occurring radioactivity, should be considered.

However, they said that no new general requirements need be introduced.

Cuttings and drilling fluid would also be included in the zero emissions target.

In the report, the agencies said: "The petroleum [sector] has achieved substantial environmental improvements. Discharges of environmentally hazardous chemical additives from the Norwegian shelf have been reduced by more than 99% over the past 10 years."

Estimates - based on figures provided from players active on the Norwegian continental shelf - indicate that preventing discharges to sea from all fields on the shelf could cost as much as Nkr46 billion ($6.4 billion). This figure also includes costs associated with emissions to air.

The report said that Norwegian studies have not been able to link any adverse environmental impact to the small amounts of radioactive elements in produced water, but added: "Nevertheless, we do not know enough about the long-term effects, and further research is required to determine whether radioactivity in produced water can result in [adverse effects]."

The agencies also said that while they have not recommended new general requirements forthe injection of produced water offshore, they believed specific measures should be considered on a field-by-field basis.

The report singled out the Troll B and C fields, saying that new evaluations were needed regarding the injection of produced water at the fields, which together account for about 40% of Norway's radioactive discharges offshore.

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