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Radiological risk assessment to marine biota from exposure to NORM from a decommissioned offshore oil and gas pipeline


MacIntosh, A and Koppel, DJ and Johansen, MP and Beresford, NA and Copplestone, D and Penrose, B and Cresswell, T, Radiological risk assessment to marine biota from exposure to NORM from a decommissioned offshore oil and gas pipeline, Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, 251-252 Article 106979. ISSN 0265-931X (2022) [Refereed Article]

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© 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) License, ( which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.jenvrad.2022.106979


Scale residues can accumulate on the interior surfaces of subsea petroleum pipes and may incorporate naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM). The persistent nature of 'NORM scale' may result in a radiological dose to the organisms living on or near intact pipelines. Following a scenario of in-situ decommissioning of a subsea pipeline, marine organisms occupying the exteriors or interiors of petroleum structures may have close contact with the scale or other NORM-associated contaminated substances and suffer subsequent radiological effects. This case study used radiological dose modelling software, including the ERICA Tool (v2.0), MicroShield® Pro and mathematical equations, to estimate the likely radiological doses and risks of effects from NORM-contaminated scale to marine biota from a decommissioned offshore oil and gas pipeline. Using activity concentrations of NORM (226Ra, 210Po, 210Pb, 228Ra, 228Th) from a subsea pipeline from Australia, environmental realistic exposure scenarios including radiological exposures from both an intact pipe (external only; accounting for radiation shielding by a cylindrical carbon steel pipe) and a decommissioned pipeline with corrosive breakthrough (resulting in both internal and external radiological exposure) were simulated to estimate doses to model marine organisms. Predicted dose rates for both the external only exposure (ranging from 26 μGy/h to 33 μGy/h) and a corroded pipeline (ranging from 300 μGy/h to 16,000 μGy/h) exceeded screening levels for radiological doses to environmental receptors. The study highlighted the importance of using scale-specific solubility data (i.e., Kd) values for individual NORM radionuclides for ERICA assessments. This study provides an approach for conducting marine organism dose assessments for NORM-contaminated subsea pipelines and highlights scientific gaps required to undertake risk assessments necessary to inform infrastructure decommissioning planning.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:risk assessment, radiological, NORM, decommissioning, in-situ disposal, natural radionuclides, dose modelling, contaminant
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Ecological applications
Research Field:Bioavailability and ecotoxicology
Objective Division:Energy
Objective Group:Energy exploration
Objective Field:Oil and gas exploration
UTAS Author:Penrose, B (Dr Beth Penrose)
ID Code:153965
Year Published:2022
Deposited By:Agriculture and Food Systems
Deposited On:2022-10-19
Last Modified:2022-12-09

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