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  NORM Services  
NORM Services
What is nuclear waste?
The simplest definition of nuclear waste is wastes arising from; a nuclear reactor, an isotope enrichment plant involved in the enrichment of uranium or plutonium, a nuclear reprocessing plant, or from a nuclear weapons facility.

Is Tellus proposing the storage or disposal of nuclear waste?
Tellus will NOT be providing nuclear waste storage or disposal services at its proposed Chandler or Sandy Ridge Facilities.

Has Tellus put in a nomination for its Sandy Ridge or Chandler Project for a possible Australian Government nuclear waste site?
  • Tellus has NOT nominated either our Sandy Ridge or Chandler project sites as a potential National Radioactive Waste Management Facility; and
  • is NOT planning to make such a nomination; and
  • would NOT accept a nomination should it be made by any other party.
Tellus is planning to offer storage and disposal services at its proposed Chandler and Sandy Ridge Facilities for NORM. Tellus is developing world's best practice facilities for the storage (retrievable) and permanent isolation (non-retrievable) of chemical waste. However some wastes also contain low levels of naturally occurring radioactive material.
NORM is everywhere; we are exposed to it every day. Natural radiation has been around since the "Big Bang." NORM is found in our bodies, the food we eat, the places where we live and work, the ground we live on, and in products we use. Almost everything in nature has some small amount of natural radioactivity. We are also bathed in a sea of natural radiation coming from the sun and deep space. Living systems have adapted to these levels of radiation and radioactivity.

But some industrial practices involving natural resources concentrate these radionuclides to a degree that they may pose risk to humans and the environment if they are not controlled.
According to the Australian Federal Government's Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) 2008 Management of NORM Report (Publication 15), Naturally-occurring radioactive material (NORM) is abundant in the environment. NORM is widespread in sands, clays, soils and rocks, and many ores and minerals, commodities, products, by-products, recycled residues, and devices used by humans. Although the concentration of NORM in most natural substances is low, any operation in which material is extracted from the earth and processed can potentially concentrate NORM in product, by-product or waste (residue) streams.
NORM location Examples of the industry and materials containing NORM
Sands, clays, soils and rocks, and many ores and minerals
  • Aluminium industry - bauxite
  • Fertiliser industry - phosphate rock
  • Paint, paper and plastics industry - mineral sands titanium bearing minerals (ilmenite, leucoxene and rutile)
  • Electronics industry - rare earth bearing minerals (monazite and xenotime)
  • Ceramics industry, refractory materials in the steel industry, the foundry industry and abrasive materials industry - mineral sands zirconium bearing mineral (zircon)
  • Metals and mineral processing industry - ores containing tin, tantalum, niobium, iron and some copper and gold deposits
  • Power generation industry - coal (accumulation of impurities in the fly and bottom ash)
  • Energy industry - oil and gas up, mid and downstream processing, geothermal energy (scaling in pipes and equipment)
  • Many of the clays, rocks and ores listed above contain low levels of uranium and thorium impurities that accumulate during processing
  • Water treatment and purification industry - Residues resulting from water treatment include flocculation sediments, filter sludge, other sand and sludge, spent ion exchange resins and reverse osmosis cartridges from desalination plants
  • Building industry - building materials like fly ash is used as a concrete extender or in lightweight building blocks; bottom ash is sometimes used as a concrete extender. Phosphogypsum is used in plasterboard, some types of granite rock used on kitchen benches and building materials
  • Fertiliser industry - phosphate fertiliser
Products Ceramic pigments and glazes (often found in tiled bathrooms, hospitals, swimming pools– spread very thin)
By-products Phosphogypsum (by product from phosphate fertiliser industry), has the same chemical properties as natural gypsum used in fertilizer, plaster, blackboard chalk and wallboards.
Residues with potential for future use
  • Fly ash from coal burning (electricity generation)
  • Red mud from alumina production
  • Slags from mineral processing
Devices used by humans
  • Welding rods (thorium-conducts heat efficiently)
  • Gas mantles (thorium)
  • Electronic components
  • Scrap metal recycling
  • Mg-Th alloy in jet engines
According to ARPANSA, the most common ways of dealing with NORM residues are storage in stockpiles and/or tailings dams, utilisation in landfill, roadfill and building materials, and disposal by near-surface burial. The choice of method should be based on the results of an environmental impact assessment. Any disposal of radioactive waste must be approved by the relevant regulator.
The Sandy Ridge Draft Environmental Scoping Document clearly states the wastes which will NOT be disposed of which include; infectious materials, nuclear material, intermediate and high level radioactive waste, uncertified waste, and putrescible waste.

Tellus is developing a best available practice facility for the permanent isolation of chemical waste. However some wastes also contain very low levels of naturally occurring radioactive material. Tellus will accept waste arising from the power, electronics, ceramics, mining, metals and minerals processing, oil and gas, water and agricultural fertiliser industries that contains NORM.

Tellus will also apply for a Licence (Controlled Action) to also accept non-nuclear low level radioactive waste (LLW).
LLW location Examples of the industry and materials containing LLW
Devices used by humans (non-nuclear low level radioactive waste)
  • Smoke detectors
  • Medical isotopes generated from disease research, diagnosis and treatment (cancer, blood disorders, etc.)
  • Medical radiography (medical X-Ray), used by dentists and doctors for organ, muscle or bone scans for research, diagnosis and treatment
  • Industrial radiography (industrial X-Ray), check the integrity of welds, e.g. test aeroplane jet engine turbines for structural integrity)
  • Sealed industrial gauges (density, moisture and other types of measurement gauges), used to measure levels of liquid inside containers, or to measure the thickness of materials
  • Radioisotopes are also widely used in scientific research, e.g. tracing the flow of contaminants in biological systems, determining metabolic processes
  • Waste from hospitals, research and university laboratories, also includes waste related to maintenance (clothes, tools, gloves, filters, etc.).
  • According to ANSTO, on average, one in every two Australians can expect at some stage in his or her life to undergo a nuclear medicine procedure that uses a radioisotope for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes.
Tellus' Chandler Project's Notice of Intent lodged with the NT Government also rules out the acceptance of nuclear waste or uranium mining waste.

Tellus is developing a world's best practice facility for the permanent isolation of chemical waste. However some wastes also contain very low levels of naturally occurring radioactive material. Tellus will accept waste arising from the power, electronics, ceramics, mining, metals and minerals processing, oil and gas, water and agricultural fertiliser industries that contain NORM.
Waste classification Sandy Ridge Chandler
Chemical waste (NEPM 75) Yes Yes
Naturally occurring radioactive waste (“NORM”) Yes Yes
Low level waste (LLW) Yes No
Intermediate level waste (ILW) No No
High level waste (HLW) No No
Transport and Regulatory controls and actions involving radioactive materials are governed by stringent Federal and State legislation. Tellus does not transport waste, but Tellus will ensure that reputable contractors which ultimately the customers appoint are fully compliant with the legislation.

Project Descriptions

For more detail on the Sandy Ridge Project click here »
For more detail on the Chandler Project click here »
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