Decontaminating Mercury and Norm

Decontaminating Mercury and NORM in the Petrochemical Industry – Responsibly

Decontaminating Mercury and Norm

As many processing facilities in the petrochemical industry are reaching the end of their life, the prevalence of Mercury and NORM is far more recognised. The issues associated with the contamination of processing piping have also become a cause for concern.

Mercury, more globally, is considered by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the top ten chemicals or groups of chemicals of major public health concern. More recently, at the end of 2021, Australia ratified the Minamata Convention which covers all aspects of the Mercury life cycle and seeks to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions and releases of Mercury and Mercury Compounds.

While NORM generally accumulates within the scale of process infrastructure, the accumulation of Mercury occurs both within the scale and within the surface substrate. This renders typical surface treatment ineffective for the removal of Mercury and its accumulation can inhibit the safe recycling of process steel.

Historically, impacted materials have been disposed of in landfills, which presents a significant risk to public health and safety. As chemical conditions change, mercury can be released as leachates – contaminated liquids that move into the subsurface of the disposal site.As part of our commitment to responsible decontamination and a desire to achieve maximum reuse and recycling for every project, Liberty Industrial has developed a cost-effective chemical decontamination process to enable the safe recycling of this steel. Recently, our team were fortunate to be able to explore this process further in a study that examined Mercury and NORM impacts in an offshore processing facility for an undisclosed client.

Led by Liberty Industrial’s Principal Environmental Engineer, John Stevanoni, the study used piping coupons from process infrastructure to assess real-world conditions, where co-contaminants, scale and the steel microstructure could have affected the success at the project scale.

All testing was carried out at an independent laboratory and overseen by the client’s third-party review consultant.
During the testing process, Liberty Industrial was able to show effective removal of both NORM and Mercury on the steel surface. Evidence also showed that effective removal of these contaminants was achieved from within the steel substrate, which allowed for unrestricted processing and recycling of the process steel.

The study also investigated the processing of the Mercury-containing waste produced during this process and demonstrated that this waste could be effectively treated to form a solid waste. The resulting wastewater was capable of being treated with Liberty Industrial’s modular Water Treatment Plants to levels consistent with the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC) Waster Quality Guidelines.

If you would like to find out more about the NORM and Mercury decontamination process or have a project in mind that could benefit from a strategically managed and responsible approach to decontamination, send an email to

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