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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 42  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 34-39

Naturally occurring radioactive material and naturally occurring mercury assessment of black powder in sales gas pipelines

1 Department of Environmental Protection, Saudi Arabian Oil Company, Dhahran 31311, Saudi Arabia
2 Research and Development Center, Saudi Arabian Oil Company, Dhahran 31311, Saudi Arabia

Correspondence Address:
Michael Ian Cowie
Saudi Aramco, Dhahran 31311
Saudi Arabia
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/rpe.RPE_69_18

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Black powder solids are formed inside the sales gas pipelines as a result of internal corrosion due to condensed moisture and the presence of corrosive gases, namely, H2S, CO2, and O2. Naturally occurring radioactive material, principally the radionuclides lead-210 and polonium-210, and naturally occurring mercury (NOM) (Hg) have been identified in black powder. A detailed investigation into both the radiological components and the presence of NOM associated with black powder was carried out by Saudi Aramco. The aim of the investigation was to determine if waste produced during pipeline scraping operations presented a workers protection or environmental control problem due to the radioactivity and mercury present. The investigation looked at Saudi Aramco's entire sales gas pipeline network and spanned scraping operations over a 3-year period. This article details the sampling and analysis methods used to assess black powder samples, the results of sample analysis and advice provided to ensure workers' protection, and environmental control of the waste produced during pipeline scraping activities.

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