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Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (NORM), or Technically Enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (TENORM) is getting more and more attention in Alabama.

NORM is found in many of our daily activities. Radon is NORM gas (More information on radon in Alabama can be found on our Radon Page). Phosphate rock used in fertilizers contains small amounts of uranium. Granite stones, widely used as a cladding on city buildings and also architecturally in homes, contains small amounts of uranium and thorium. Coal, which is used to produce the majority of the electricity in the United States, also contains uranium and thorium.

TENORM is naturally occurring radionuclides whose concentrations are increased by, or as a result of, past or present human practices. An example of TENORM is the scale found in pipes and tanks used in the oil and gas industry. The product brought up out of the ground contains varying quantities of NORM that plate out on the inside of the pipe. As the scale plates out, it increases the concentration of naturally occurring radioactive material. TENORM does not include background radiation or the natural radioactivity of rocks or soils.

To determine if the NORM concentration is such that it will require a radioactive material license, the Alabama Office of Radiation Control has adopted two thresholds. The first threshold is an exposure reading of 50 microroentgen/hour (uR/hr) (background included) at contact with the NORM or NORM contaminated article. This threshold is only to be used for discreet items such as pipes or tanks, and the TENORM contaminated scale or sludge contained in these pipes or tanks. The second threshold is a concentration of greater than 5 picocuries/gram (pCi/g) of combined radium 226 and radium 228. If either of these thresholds are exceeded, a radioactive material license is required to receive, possess, use, transfer, own or acquire the NORM.

The Agency also uses the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors (CRCPD) Part N, Regulation and Licensing of Technologically Enhanced and Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (TENORM), as a guidance document. If you need to apply for a license to possess NORM you can find application forms on the Forms page.

If you need assistance in preparing your license or registration application, please feel free to contact the Agency at (334) 290-6244, or on our in-state toll free line, 1-800-582-1866.

Page last updated: May 13, 2021