NEW YORK, June 17 -- Alcoa (AA.N: Quote) said on Tuesday it continued to assess the damage to its Aviles aluminum smelter in Spain, hit late last week by a severe flood to the region and was working to reduce the impact on customer shipments from the plant.
"We need to do an assessment of the situation and then be able to come up with more plans. But right now, they're still in the process of assessing the damage," said Kevin Lowery, Alcoa spokesman, in response to a question about how long the plant would likely be idled.
On Monday, the Pittsburgh-based aluminum giant said it idled its 93,000-tonne-per-year aluminum smelter in Aviles, Spain after it flooded from torrential rain late last week in the country's Asturias region.
"There was very significant flooding in the entire region, let alone where we are," said Lowery.
The Aviles smelter, along with the surrounding region, suffered severe flooding last week, including the electrical substation that supplies power to the smelter, Alcoa said.
The smelter will remain idled while the company cleans up the flood and assesses its damage, Alcoa said.
Customers have been notified that Alcoa declared force majeure and the floods have affected shipments and deliveries.
Asked whether there would be shipment delays to customers or the aluminum producer would use supplies from its other smelters to make up the shortfall, Lowery said, "You have to do the best you can."
"Anytime something happens where customers are impacted, we try to take steps to mitigate any impact on our customers, as well as any impact on the community where we operate. We are taking those steps," the spokesman said.
Aviles plant workers were able to safely raise anodes out of their pots, helping to lessen some of the flood's impact. Water did enter the plant and substation, however, which made idling the plant and clean-up and repair work necessary.
The Aviles plant employs about 500 people.
Alcoa is working with local community representatives, government leaders, and its insurance carriers, and will provide more detail and a timetable once it completes the damage assessment, the company said.