A comparative analysis of Texas and Louisiana Oil-field NORM Waste Policy

Germaine P Johnson, The University of Texas School of Public Health


NORM (Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material) Waste Policies for the nation's oil and gas producing states have been in existence since the 1980's, when Louisiana was the first state to develop a NORM regulatory program in 1989. Since that time, expectations for NORM Waste Policies have evolved, as Health, Safety, Environment, and Social responsibility (HSE & SR) grows increasingly important to the public. Therefore, the oil and gas industry's safety and environmental performance record will face challenges in the future, about its best practices for managing the co-production of NORM wastes. Within the United States, NORM is not federally regulated. The U.S. EPA claims it regulates NORM under CERCLA (superfund) and the Clean Water Act. Though, there are no universally applicable regulations for radium-based NORM waste. Therefore, individual states have taken responsibility for developing NORM regulatory programs, because of the potential radiological risk it can pose to man (bone and lung cancer) and his environment. This has led to inconsistencies in NORM Waste Policies as well as a NORM management gap in both state and federal regulatory structures. Fourteen different NORM regulations and guidelines were compared between Louisiana and Texas, the nation's top two petroleum producing states. Louisiana is the country's top crude oil producer when production from its Federal offshore waters are included, and fourth in crude oil production, behind Texas, Alaska, and California when Federal offshore areas are excluded. Louisiana produces more petroleum products than any state but Texas. For these reasons, a comparative analysis between Louisiana and Texas was undertaken to identify differences in their NORM regulations and guidelines for managing, handling and disposing NORM wastes. Moreover, this analysis was undertaken because Texas is the most explored and drilled worldwide and yet appears to lag behind its neighboring state in terms of its NORM Waste Policy and developing an industry standard for handling, managing and disposing NORM. As a result of this analysis, fourteen recommendations were identified.

Subject Area

Occupational health|Environmental Geology|Environmental Health

Recommended Citation

Johnson, Germaine P, "A comparative analysis of Texas and Louisiana Oil-field NORM Waste Policy" (2011). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1497688.