Leaders in waste management


Naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM)

Harpers Environmental Ltd are one of a few experienced industrial services businesses that have the certification, skills and large capital assets that can deal with NORM waste extraction and transport for processing and recycling. Harpers have experience across the UK dealing with NORM and ensure that work involving NORM is carried out safely and effectively. Harpers can enter tanks and vessels, clean, decontaminate and extract liquids, sludge and loose solids that have been contaminated with NORM. Using various techniques for deep or “long pull” extraction Harpers use multiple powerful DISAB air flow vaccumation vehicles supported by specialist confined space teams.

NORM is potentially high risk.

  • Radioactive materials which occur naturally and where human activities increase the exposure of people to ionising radiation are known by the acronym ‘NORM’.
  • NORM results from activities such as burning coal, making and using fertilisers, oil and gas production.
  • Uranium mining exposes those involved to NORM in the uranium orebody.
  • Radon in homes is one occurrence of NORM which may give rise to concern and action to control it, by ventilation.

All minerals and raw materials contain radionuclides of natural origin. The most important for the purposes of radiation protection are the radionuclides in the U-238 and Th-232 decay series. For most human activities involving minerals and raw materials, the levels of exposure to these radionuclides are not significantly greater than normal background levels and are not of concern for radiation protection. However, certain work activities can give rise to significantly enhanced exposures that may need to be controlled by regulation. Material giving rise to these enhanced exposures has become known as naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM)

Excluding uranium mining and all associated fuel cycle activities, industries known to have NORM issues include:

  • The coal industry (mining and combustion)
  • The oil and gas industry (production)
  • Metal mining and smelting
  • Mineral sands (rare earth minerals, titanium and zirconium).
  • Fertiliser (phosphate) industry 
  • Building industry   
  • Recycling