Image: Indian Point reactor, entrance
Craig Ruttle  /  AP file
A reactor within the Indian Point nuclear complex near Buchanan, N.Y., is seen in the background as officials gather at an entrance during a minor fire inside in 2007.
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updated 2/15/2011 12:38:25 PM ET 2011-02-15T17:38:25

Three northeastern states are suing federal regulators for allowing the storage of radioactive waste for up to 60 years at the nation's nuclear power plants.

New York's attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, on Tuesday said the decision violates requirements for a review of health, safety and environmental hazards.

Connecticut and Vermont are also plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

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The NRC decided in December to extend from 30 years to 60 the amount of time that nuclear waste could be stored at the nation's 100-plus reactor sites. Spokesman Neil Sheehan said Tuesday that the commission's studies found such storage to be safe.

President Barack Obama is supporting more nuclear plants. But waste storage is a major stumbling block.

Schneiderman said the lawsuit is being filed with an appeals court in Washington.

He announced it at a news conference in White Plains, N.Y, about 18 miles from the controversial Indian Point nuclear plants in Buchanan. Nuclear waste storage is among the issues in Entergy Nuclear's fight to get new 30-year licenses for the Indian Point plants.

"Whether you're for or against re-licensing Indian Point, we can all agree on one thing: Before dumping radioactive waste at the site for 60 years after it's closed, our communities deserve a thorough review of the safety, public health, and environmental risks such a move would present," Schneiderman said.

He said the NRC is required to conduct "a site-by-site analysis" of the potential problems.

"I am committed to forcing the feds to take the hardest look possible at the risks of long-term, on-site storage, before they allow our communities to become blighted and our families, properties, and businesses threatened by radioactive waste dumps for generations to come," the attorney general said.

Sheehan said the NRC's studies "have supported that it is safe to store this material in either circulating-water spent fuel pools or dry casks for at least 60 years beyond a plant's operational life."

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