Although the Mississippi River has been dropping steadily, flooding problems persist at Buzzi Unicem on South Sprigg Street in Cape Girardeau. The cement plant still has about two-thirds of its quarry under water, said Steve Leus, plant manager. Its primary crushing machine is also underwater.
Portable crushers have been brought in and are being used at higher elevations so operations can continue
. A total of 14 diesel and electric powered pumps continue to force water out of the quarry. It had been dropping at a rate of about 15 inches per day, Leus said.
This is the first time in the plant’s history that flooding has had such an impact on its operations.
None of the plants 170 employees were laid off as a result of the stop in production, instead they were used to help fight the incoming water. Until the river is back below flood stage, it will be difficult to determine how to prevent problems like this from happening again in the future, he said.
"We’re convinced the water is coming from the LaCroix Creek, when the river is up," Leus said. "Something has to be done either to the creek or to the walls of the quarry itself to slow this water down." On Friday, the Mississippi river was at 35 feet, still 3 feet above flood stage.
It’s projected to rise over the next few days, cresting at 37.5 feet on Tuesday. "We’re taking it one day at a time," Leus said.