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Characterization of Objects Contaminated by Technologically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (TENORM) within the Phosphate Industry



The purpose of this study is to provide information as to the characterization of objects contaminated with TENORM within the industry. Technical enhancement is the separation of the principal radionuclides, namely uranium and radium-226, with the resultant material not in equilibrium. TENORM is currently not officially defined by the regulatory agency nor are compliance criteria established. Seven facilities participated in the study that lasted twelve months. Current practices at each site were reviewed with results being anonymous. Each site maintained a “lay-down” area where items were collected, segregated and surveyed prior to determining the disposition. Samples were taken from debris, metals, and other items destined for landfills, salvers and phosphogypsum stacks. Collective sample analyses indicated the enhancement being 72% favoring uranium and 25% favoring radium. Thirty-five percent of the uranium samples had activity 10 times greater than the radium activity. Over 50% of the discarded items went to salvers, of which 66% had background radiation levels. One hundred tons of debris destined for off-site disposition consisted of approximately 4.5 millicuries of uranium and 8 millicuries of radium. One hundred thirty-six total samples were taken with detailed descriptions delineating identification, radiation levels, estimated mass and whether having fixed or removable contamination.