From the Ground Up: Radiation Exposure in Borehole Logging

Often used in mining, borehole logging is part of environmental or geotechnical studies. There are various tools and techniques to conduct this. Basically, it can be a visual inspection of samples brought to the surface or workers will drop a probe that will record data from there. 

Prior to drilling for oil, gas, water or minerals, borehole logging can measure soil composition, radioactivity, fluid flow and more. It can check if the area has the target mining product, like if the water beneath needs additional treatment before using it commercially.

drilling support
Photo from heapsolutions

With borehole logging devices containing sealed radioactive sources, exploration workers can be exposed to significant radiological health hazards.

How Can Exploration Workers Be Exposed?

To produce an extremely detailed description of an area, exploration workers use devices with sealed sources that emit gamma rays or neutrons. Their penetrating capability regardless of casing and fluid type in the borehole makes them unique. 

However, if workers experienced jams during operation or if they didn’t follow safety procedures, they could be exposed to radiation. Without adequate training, there could also be exposure when recovering lost sources or transferring the source to the shielded transport container.

Photo from americangeophysics

Exposure can be external or internal–the latter more unlikely to happen. Ingestion or inhalation is not common under normal operating conditions.

2014 Australian Radiation Incident

In Australia, there have been registered incidents involving borehole logging. Causes include human error, technology factors and organisation factors. 

In 2014, a serious incident during transferring of sources occured due to human error. The workers “failed to place all the sources in the shielded transport container” and “failed to perform a radiation survey of the area before removing the area barriers and warning had been removed.”

Three workers received high doses in a short time and underwent monitoring and blood tests for three days.

Safety Precautions for Borehole Logging Workers

There are safety regulations and guidelines in occupations involving radiation. For borehole logging, there should be adequate training and supervision when handling radiation sourced logging devices. 

In Australia, each state and territory has their respective radiation safety act and regulations including the use of borehole logging devices. 

The International Atomic Energy Agency also has its guidance and recommendations to enhance radiation protection for workers and the community. These are based on regulatory and industrial practices representing the international consensus.

Photo from IAEA

Radiation Monitoring for Occupational Exposure

Monitoring plays a key role in mining activities like borehole and well logging. SensaWeb monitors send radiation and location data in real-time, every TWO seconds, using multiple communication methods. Authorised staff can then view this data on the report generation and management platform, anywhere and on any device. 

The user can set whatever limits they wish on the monitor; any breach of those limits will trigger an email and text message alert to the official responsible for radiation health and safety.

Looking for area radiation monitors or personal radiation monitoring devices? Connect with us here or our email address: You can also call us at +61 415 409 467.

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