Lean Corrective Action Process Improvements for RCRA Facility Investigations
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regions 3 and 7 have partnered with state agencies, consulting groups, industry and other stakeholders in a targeted effort to improve the national RCRA Corrective Action process through application of the Lean Improvement System.
THE LEAN IMPROVEMENT SYSTEM
The Lean Improvement System is a collection of principals and methods that focus on the identification and elimination of non-value added activity in any process. Numerous government agencies, including EPA, are using Lean improvement methods to dramatically improve the quality, transparency, and speed of their processes.
EPA Region 7 is applying the Lean Improvement System to the RCRA Corrective Action program in order to systematically evaluate all steps in the Corrective Action process. EPA Region 7 expects these efforts will identify and eliminate process inefficiencies and barriers to success, and reduce costs without compromising our commitment to protection to human health and the environment.
THE LEAN SYSTEM AND RCRA FACILITY INVESTIGATIONS
As an initial step in improving the Corrective Action process, the Lean Improvement System was applied to the RCRA Facility Investigation (RFI) phase. In redefining the approach to the RFI, EPA Region 7 is removing various barriers to progress and redundant activities. This approach has the potential to increase the efficiency and capacity of the RFI process.
HOW IT WORKS
The RFI Lean approach shifts critical decisions to the front of the Corrective Action process by establishing a standardized procedure to reach key agreements prior to the investigation. Using the RFI Lean approach, goals and expectations are clarified for all stakeholders at the start of the process. A central tenet of the RFI Lean improvement process is to identify and resolve, at the onset of the RFI, critical decisions necessary to complete the RFI. A clarification of goals and expectations prior to the investigation will reduce redundancies and expedite the RFI process by ensuring all stakeholders have a clear understanding of the data needs, decisions points, and outcomes needed to move through the Corrective Action process. By providing a roadmap with process metrics to drive continuous improvements and establishing a clear understanding up front amongst stakeholders, we anticipate years of time will be saved during the RFI.
EPA Region 7 expects the RFI Lean methodology will be replicated during subsequent phases of Corrective Action and that a continuous improvement culture will drive these changes.
THE RFI LEAN PROCESS WILL:
- Significantly reduce the time needed to complete the RFI
- Create considerable cost savings by reducing time
- Accelerate positive environmental results for affected communities
- Provide a roadmap with process metrics to drive continuous improvements
- Make the RFI process reproducible for others
- Provide a more efficient process for other regions/states/programs to consider
- Enhance communication throughout the process
- Shift work to the front of the process by establishing a standardized approach to reach key agreements
- Ensure all stakeholders have a clear understanding of the steps and decisions needed to achieve site closure
- Relieve workload for EPA or State Project Managers participating in the process
- Potentially require less formal enforcement or “command and control” project management
The Lean projected results: existing RFI process that took an estimated 19.4 years to a new RFI process taking a projected 5.1 years (75% reduction).
For more information, contact:
Waste Remediation and Permits Branch
U.S. EPA Region 7
11201 Renner Boulevard
Lenexa, KS 66219