Before Hinkley C can be built, the EPR reactor of the same design being built at Flamanville in France must be completed and be established generating

before 2020, or else the UK government’s guarantees and financial agreements fall apart.

So it is not surprising that EDF tried to go unnoticed as it drove a convoy carrying the steel lid and pressure vessel from Chalon, where it was produced across France to Flamanville, though this was documented and publicised by Greenpeace last week.

These two parts, the pressure vessel and lid, could signal the final death tomb of the dream French EPR nuclear reactor, because they do not meet the high quality safety standards required for nuclear technology.

In April the French Nuclear Safety Authority, (the ASN) discovered a very serious default in the composition of the steel used in the pressure vessel. Tests showed excessive presence of carbon, which makes the steel more brittle and subject to breakage. The pressure vessel contains the huge amounts of atomic fission energy in the core.

EDF was quick to minimise the problem and promised other tests. If EDF was serious with the safety measures the company should await the validation of the ASN of the test results that might be released in late 2016 or early 2017.

As Yannick Rousselet from Greenpeace France quoted, “Once again, EDF is turning a blind eye to all the issues, continuing as though no one else would notice and going forward anyway until there is no turning back.”

The nuclear industry is desperate and that new failure in safety could have serious consequences, not only in France, but also in China (Taishan) and England at Hinkley Point, which are among the other vessels produced with the same steel.

If the tests confirm the safety problem, EDF would have to replace the whole vessel, and have to break open and remove the first pressure vessel at Flamanville, adding huge costs and further delays, which would bring the final blow to the industrial jewel already dying.

This defective lid could seal the tomb of the EPR reactor!

Allan Jeffery, Bridgwater.