While the effects of recent hurricanes are clearly posing questions over cement supply availability producers further north say there is not much they can do to help. ’’Katrina didn’t have much, if any, effect on the supply of cement in the Northeast,’’ said Steve Hayden, plant manager of Keystone Cement in East Allen Township. ’’The supply here in the Lehigh Valley continues to run short.’’
Construction in the Gulf Coast will produce a big demand for cement — 4Mt over five years, according the Portland Cement Association. But the four companies that run cement plants in the Lehigh Valley were already operating near capacity before Katrina. So they couldn’t produce much more to help with this demand.
’’Our markets tend to be local,’’ said Vince Martin, environmental and public relations manager at Lafarge North America in Whitehall Township. ’’Transportation costs determine the market. There is only a potential for indirect impact.’’ Lafarge operates the oldest continuous running plant in the Lehigh Valley, started in 1899.
Marco Barbesta said New Orleans may be looking south of the border. The spokesman for Essroc Cement, which has two plants in Nazareth, said New Orleans might import much of its cement from Mexico. ’’Cement made in Mexico would be in a good geographic position,’’ Barbesta said. ’’Cemex is the largest cement company there.’’