Update: Chiefs express dismay over mayor’s recent comments on Mount Polley

Comments made by Mayor Walt Cobb about the Mount Polley Mine breach during a CBC radio interview are not sitting well.

  • Oct. 8, 2015 7:00 p.m.

Update with Mayor Cobb’s response

Comments made by Mayor Walt Cobb about the Mount Polley Mine breach during a CBC radio interview are not sitting well with leaders of the Xat’sull First Nation and the Williams Lake Indian Band.

This week the bands issued a joint statement sharing dismay, saying Cobb had downplayed the spill by likening it to a mudslide and saying only water escaped during the breach.

“This was no mere mudslide — it was a disaster that resulted in the complete evacuation of mine-related water and slurry from a tailings storage facility that was nearly four square kilometres in size,” said WLIB Chief Ann Louie.

Xat’sull Chief Donna Dixon said Cobb’s comments were thoroughly misleading and will only serve to foment anger and division within the community and country in general.

Mayor Walt Cobb told the Tribune Friday that during the interview he said the spill from Mount Polley was water and silt.

“I did mention that it could be compared to a land/mud slide on the sea to sky highway. I do not recall the exact words,” Cobb said. “The only difference between the two is that no one ever determines what the content is in a mudslide, but we know what came from the tailings pond and everything that was in the tailings pond is ground up rock that originated in the ground and there were no chemicals used during the crushing process.”

People will deduce what they want from any statement, Cobb said, noting he believes the media has blown it out of proportion to sell news.

When asked how he feels his relationship is with Xat’sull and WLIB, Cobb said he thinks the city has a good relationship with both bands but may have different points of view on different issues.

“The radio interview was about the Bill of rights and not about Mt. Polley specifically,” he said.”The Mount Polley discussion came from the interviewer and she made some incorrect assumptions which brought up the issue around mudslides.”