The construction of the EPR nuclear reactor at Taishan in China has passed a key stage with the lowering of the vessel into the Unit 1 reactor building and its installation in the reactor pit.

The positioning of the steel component – which weighs more than 420 tonnes – marks the culmination of civil engineering and assembly works undertaken since the metal dome was placed on top of the reactor building at the end of October 2011.

The work is being carried out by French firms EDF and Areva and Chinese company CGNPC, under the management of Taishan Nuclear Power, a joint venture between CGNPC and EDF.

David Emond, Taishan project manager at Areva, said: “The installation of the vessel initiates an important new phase in the development of the site. With the success of this key operation, we have taken a further step towards the commissioning of the most powerful nuclear reactor in China.”