A Demand sent to Trans Mountain Insurers from OCA

To the CEOs of AIG, Chubb, Energy Insurance Limited, Liberty Mutual, Lloyd’s, Munich Re, Starr, Stewart Specialty Risk Underwriting, W.R. Berkley, Zurich, Amlin, ANV, Arch, Argo, Ironstarr, Lancashire, and QBE:

The 2019-2020 certificate of insurance for the Trans Mountain pipeline names your company as a provider of insurance coverage from August 2019 through August 2020.1  

We, the undersigned organizations, demand that you publicly rule out insuring Trans Mountain immediately. With the policy expiring at the end of August, now is the time to decisively say no to this destructive project.

The existing Trans Mountain pipeline is a major public health and environmental hazard with a long history of spills and leaks.2 Last month, the pipeline had its 85th spill incident when 50,000 gallons of crude oil poured out of a pump station in British Columbia, threatening an aquifer that supplies the Sumas First Nation with drinking water.3

The Trans Mountain Expansion Project would multiply these risks tremendously. The Canadian government, which owns Trans Mountain, is attempting to build a parallel pipeline that would ship more than 890,000 barrels of crude tar sands oil per year to the coast of British Columbia. Future spills from a massively expanded pipeline would endanger local sources of drinking water along the route and waters along the west coast of North America, including the Burrard Inlet.4 The Canadian government has also warned of the adverse health effects of human exposure to crude oil spills.5 

For more than a decade, the expansion of Trans Mountain has been delayed in the face of powerful, Indigenous-led resistance on the ground and in the courts. There have been multiple lawsuits against the Trans Mountain Expansion Project led by First Nations demanding adequate consultation and accommodation,6,7 and land defenders are asserting their rights and title along the pipeline’s path.8

The project would increase the extraction of tar sands in northern Alberta, which requires vast quantities of fresh water and natural gas as well as clearing of the boreal forest, a natural carbon sink. The carcinogenic and toxic pollutants released in the mining process have done irreparable and widespread harm to the health of Indigenous communities, and there is an ongoing legal challenge from the Beaver Lake Cree Nation to stop the expansion of tar sands extraction in Alberta.9

Human rights groups and communities along the Trans Mountain route have cited concerns over the expansion of tar sands pipelines through communities because of the risks that pipeline workers housed in temporary “man camps” pose to Indigenous women in rural communities. Man camps have been recognized by the United Nations to bring increased sexual violence to communities.10

Further down the supply chain, the processing of tar sands oil is an issue of environmental justice in the U.S. Oil refineries are disproportionately located in communities of color, exposing Black and Latinx Americans to toxic chemicals, dangerous air quality, and explosive facilities at alarming rates.11 With increased tar sands production, refineries are expanding and intensifying these threats to health and safety.12   

As outlined, Trans Mountain puts Indigenous communities, drinking water, and our shared climate at grave risk. We stand united against this megaproject. Insuring tar sands pipelines demonstrates that your company is choosing corporate greed over people, and it will pose significant reputational risks to your business.

We urge you to rule out insuring Trans Mountain and exit the tar sands sector entirely. We also call on you to adopt, as part of your insurance policies, a requirement to obtain and document the Free, Prior and Informed Consent of impacted communities, especially Indigenous communities.

Endnotes

  1. Trans Mountain Certificate of Insurance,” Canada Energy Regulator, filed in April 2020.
  2. Trans Mountain Spill History,” Trans Mountain.
  3. Trans Mountain Pipeline Spills up to 50,000 Gallons of Oil on Indigenous Land in BC,” EcoWatch, June 2020.
  4. An Assessment of Spill Risk for the Trans Mountain Expansion Project,” The Tsleil-Waututh Nation Sacred Trust.
  5. Guidance for the Environmental Public Health Management of Crude Oil Incidents – A Guide Intended for “Public Health and Emergency Management Practitioners,” Health Canada, August 2018.
  6. For example, in April 2020, the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh Nations, Coldwater Band, and Ts’elxwéyeqw Tribes applied to the Canadian Supreme Court over Trans Mountain.
  7. The Stó:lō First Nation is considering filing a claim over Lightning Rock, a sacred site that sits in the path of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
  8. The Tiny House Warriors: Our Land is Home is a part of a project by collective title holders to stop the Trans Mountain pipeline from crossing unceded Secwepemc Territory. 
  9. In 2013, the Beaver Lake Cree Nation was granted a trial due to the impacts of the tar sands industry on Treaty rights to hunt, fish, trap and gather plant medicine. Their legal challenge is ongoing.
  10. UN Special Rapporteur, Oil Gas and Mining Operations Bring Increased Sexual Violence, January 2014. 
  11. ‘This Is an Emergency’: 1 Million African Americans Live Near Oil, Gas Facilities,” InsideClimate News, November 2017.
  12. Why Californians Are Worried About the Trans Mountain Pipeline,” The Narwhal, October 2018.