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Staff Accomplishments

Life-Cycle Model helps accelerate Hanford cleanup

March 2004
The U.S. Department of Energy's Richland Operations Office (RL) is striving to shave 35 years off of the schedule to cleanup radioactive and chemical wastes left by plutonium production work at the Hanford Site. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) is supporting the creation of an integrated baseline that shows the complex scientific, regulatory, and financial connections involved in Hanford cleanup, a key step in accelerating the cleanup schedule. This baseline was created and is being managed with the assistance of the Life-Cycle Model. PNNL's Life-Cycle Model is a database-driven, object-oriented computer model. It loads, links and displays the overall Hanford baseline, which includes 177 underground storage tanks, over 1800 facilities, and 1400 waste sites. The Life-Cycle Model can also provide detailed baselines for single areas, such as the waste tanks. "Accelerating cleanup of Hanford can only be accomplished through the careful alignment of baseline plans, contracts and the regulatory framework," said Michael Shay, project manager. "The Life-Cycle Model allows the user to see and explore these connections." The Life-Cycle Model does not simply provide a static image of the baseline. It is a flexible tool that can be used to conduct tradeoff analyses regarding the baseline. Currently, RL is using the Life-Cycle Model to study the costs and consequences of potential actions. The model is being used to answer such questions as about costs, savings, and regulatory deadlines. "The Life-Cycle Model is capable of consistently representing multiple cases, allowing for quick comparisons and faster turn-around times on optimization studies. And it does all of this while maintaining interconnections between and within projects," said Shay. This approach is faster and cheaper than previous methods of conducting tradeoff analyses. The old method involved asking contractors for detailed information on dozens of scenarios, sifting through the information, and then presenting only a few scenarios to DOE-Headquarters or other organizations. Now, RL can examine hundreds of scenarios using the Life-Cycle Model, determine the ones that show the most promise and request detailed plans from the contractors for the proposed change only, saving time and hundreds of thousands of dollars. RL is planning to conduct more tradeoff analyses using the Life-Cycle Model to clarify the impacts of alternative endpoints for cost, risk and land use.

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