The attorneys general of New York, Connecticut and Vermont sued the Nuclear Regulatory Commission February 15, challenging a commission policy adopted in December that said nuclear waste can be safely stored at a nuclear power plant for 60 years after a reactor goes out of service.

The New York Times said the attorneys general noted that storage of nuclear waste remained a nagging issue for the federal government. After years of work by the Energy Department to prepare Yucca Mountain in Nevada as a permanent repository for nuclear waste, the Obama administration in 2009 ruled out using that site. State utility regulators have challenged that decision in a lawsuit.

An NRC spokesman was quoted as saying the lawsuit by the attorneys general mischaracterized the nature of the commission's December decision. He described it as a commission “opinion” on how long waste could be safely stored rather than a rule permitting any plant to store spent fuel.

The newspaper said people who favor building new reactors said the NRC policy was important because it helped outline a legal basis for approving the construction of new reactors and long-range plans for handling their spent fuel.

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