Improving Laboratory Productivity at the World’s Largest Nuclear Waste Site


In 2009, RJ Lee Group took our laboratory management expertise to the next level: We were subcontracted by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to provide support services for the environmental cleanup mission at Hanford in Washington State — the largest nuclear waste site in the world.

We now manage the site’s Waste Sampling and Characterization Facility (WSCF) as a preselected subcontractor by Hanford’s primary contractor, the Mission Support Alliance (MSA).

Client Challenge

WSCF performs a full range of inorganic and organic chemistry, radiochemistry and industrial hygiene services to support major DOE remediation programs across the former Manhattan Project nuclear production complex.

When our contract began, the facility’s most pressing issues were the operating systems, productivity, and behind-schedule delivery.

Additionally, the Hanford Site had recently been granted a significant amount of stimulus funding to accelerate the clean-up mission, which increased the number of samples to process, and sped up the desired turnaround time.

RJ Lee Group Approach

To increase productivity and meet the higher demand set by stimulus funding, we brought — and continue to bring — our commercial best practices to bear. Our focus remains on the client, and on improving satisfaction with fast, high-quality analytical results that advance the government’s objective of environmental stewardship.

We brought the existing WSCF staff of 140 under the RJ Lee Group management team, and are currently recruiting qualified individuals to increase staff size to 170.

Since RJ Lee Group’s involvement, the laboratory has instituted metrics that monitor the facility daily, which help us identify process weaknesses and potential corrective and preventive actions.

Outcome

RJ Lee Group had an immediate and noticeable impact on improving productivity and on-time delivery at WSCF.  In less than a year, we improved the on-time delivery rate by 40%. During this same time period, sample volume nearly tripled and testing turnaround time was reduced from 30 to 10 days.