Energy Department to close Hanford waste analysis lab

Energy Department to close Hanford waste analysis lab
In this May 6, 2004 file photo, workers use heavy machinery to remove waste in an area near two dormant nuclear reactors on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland, Wash.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY NEWS RELEASE -- In order to reduce infrastructure costs at the Hanford Site, the Department of Energy’s Richland Operations Office has decided to close the Waste Sampling and Characterization Facility (http://www.hanford.gov/page.cfm/WSCF).  Eliminating the operation and maintenance expenses for the Waste Sampling and Characterization Facility significantly reduces the costs of analytical sampling.  This decision will allow site cleanup contractors to obtain sampling analysis services from offsite laboratories.  The resulting savings can be used to further the important cleanup work at Hanford.

Information on background

· We anticipate ceasing operations at the Waste Sampling and Characterization Facility (WSCF) within a year.

· After the facility is placed in a low-cost surveillance and maintenance mode, we expect to see an average savings of approximately $12 million per year, the majority of which is the cost of maintaining and operating WSCF.

· DOE contractor Mission Support Alliance (MSA), which has performed analytical services for Hanford contractors, and its subcontractor and WSCF operator, RJ Lee, are notifying employees of DOE’s decision today. There are approximately 60 RJ Lee employees working at WSCF as subcontractors to MSA. It will be up to the contractors to decide the ultimate workforce impacts.  Questions about effects to those employees should be directed to the contractors. 

· Over the past 20 years, the capacity of offsite laboratories and the turnaround time in the shipping industry have substantially improved.  The increased number of offsite laboratories with consistent turnaround times, as well as reliable and expedited shipping options, has made these facilities a better option for meeting Hanford sample analysis needs at a significantly lower cost.

· DOE Richland contractor Washington Closure Hanford is successfully using offsite laboratories for its sample analysis to support cleanup in Hanford’s River Corridor.

ANNOUNCEMENT

To: ALL HANFORD SITE EMPLOYEES

Subject: DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY CLOSING WASTE SAMPLING AND CHARACTERIZATION FACILITY

In order to reduce infrastructure costs across the Hanford Site, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Richland Operations Office (RL) has decided to close the Waste Sampling and Characterization Facility (WSCF) and remove the sample analysis scope of work from the Mission Support Alliance, LLC (MSA) Contract.  Offsite laboratories can provide these analytical services at significantly lower cost, resulting in savings that can be used to conduct additional cleanup work at Hanford.

WSCF was built in the 1990s to analyze samples with trace amounts of chemicals and radioactive materials from Hanford Site surveillance and monitoring activities, as well as cleanup operations.  At that time, RL and its regulators (Washington State Department of Ecology and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) weren’t confident that offsite laboratories could support the volume of work and turnaround times required for analyzing Hanford Site samples.

Over the past 20 years, the capacity and turnaround time of offsite laboratories, as well as the reliability of the shipping industry, have improved to the point that offsite laboratories are the most cost-effective option for analyzing Hanford Site samples.  This approach has been implemented successfully by Washington Closure Hanford LLC and by contractors at other DOE cleanup sites.

We anticipate ceasing operations at WSCF within a year.  After the facility is placed in a low-cost surveillance and maintenance mode, we expect to see an average savings of approximately $12 million per year, the majority of which is the cost of maintaining and operating WSCF.

MSA and its subcontractor and WSCF operator, RJ Lee, are notifying affected employees of DOE’s decision today.  We ask you to keep this in mind if you are working with WSCF personnel and to support your fellow employees as we make this change.  I’d like to thank WSCF employees for their many years of dedication to Hanford cleanup.

                                                                                                Matt McCormick, Manager

                                                                                                Richland Operations Office