Trillium Asset Management Coordinates Letter from Leading SRI Firms to Dow on Bhopal Controversy(A)
Below is the letter Trillium Asset Management and a group of leading socially responsible investment firms sent to Dow Chemical Company. You can also read The Financial Express’ article about the letter and read Dow’s response.
December 2, 2002
William S. Stavropoulos Chairman of the BoardDow Chemical Company2030 Dow CenterMidland, MI 48674
Michael D. ParkerPresident, CEO, and DirectorDow Chemical Company2030 Dow CenterMidland, MI 48674
Dear Dr. Stavropoulos and Mr. Parker:
As institutional investors with approximately $13 billion in assets, we are writing with concern about the ongoing controversy over the company’s accountability for the tragic chemical disaster that occurred at Union Carbide’s Bhopal facility eighteen years ago.
As arguably the world’s worst industrial accident, Bhopal remains both a potent symbol around the globe, and an ongoing medical disaster for the numerous residents of Bhopal. We were glad to learn of your willingness to meet with representatives of Bhopal survivor groups during The Dow Chemical Company’s annual general meeting in May.
We believe the continuing protests and media coverage around this issue pose a risk to Dow’s reputation and a undermine Dow’s stated commitments to sustainability. We are also concerned about a potential judgment the company may face in a pending lawsuit in the U.S. over groundwater contamination from improper waste disposal at Union Carbide’s Bhopal facility as well as ongoing litigation in Bhopal, India for compensation, environmental remediation, and medical rehabilitation. We urge you to continue dialogue with representatives of Bhopal citizens groups, to take their claims seriously, and to work towards a mutually acceptable solution. We also view with concern Dow’s continued sale of products containing the insecticide chlorpyrifos (known as Dursban in the U.S.) in India and other countries. As you are aware, last year in the U.S. this chemical was pulled from consumer products designed for home use due to concerns about its toxicity, especially to children. The tragic disaster in Bhopal occurred in large part because a U.S.-based chemical company engaged in practices overseas that it would not have engaged in here in the U.S. We are concerned that continuing global sales of chemicals restricted in the U.S. for safety reasons represents a less dramatic, but equally troubling case of double standards that pose a threat to the people of India and elsewhere. We urge Dow to adopt global policies to prevent the company from being faced with charges of hypocrisy, and potential future legal liabilities abroad and in U.S. courts.
We welcome your response about how Dow is addressing these sensitive issues, and appreciate your time and attention to these matters.
Steve Lippman, Senior Social Research Analyst, Trillium Asset Management369 Pine Street, Suite 711, San Francisco, CA 94104
Conrad MacKerron, Director, Corporate Accountability Program, As You Sow Foundation540 Pacific Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94133
Julie Gorte, Director, Social Research Department, Calvert Group, Ltd.4550 Montgomery Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland 20814
Adam Kanzer, General Counsel, Domini Social Investments LLC 536 Broadway, 7th Floor, New York, NY 10012-3915
Bob Walker, Ethical Funds1441 Creekside Drive, 8th Floor, Vancouver, BC V6J 4S7, Canada
Amy Perry, VP for Shareholder Advocacy, Green Century Capital Management 29 Temple Place, Suite 200, Boston, MA 02111
John Harrington, President & CEO of Harrington Investments, Inc.1001 2nd Street, Suite 325 Napa, CA 94559
Neil Stallings, Director of Shareholder Advocacy, Progressive Asset Management1730 Franklin Street, Suite 201, Oakland, CA 94612
Tim Smith, Senior Vice President, Walden Asset Management40 Court St., Boston, MA 02108
Bob Charlton, Global Vice President, Public AffairsLarry Washington Jr., Corporate Vice President, EH&S, HR, Public AffairsRichard L. Manetta, Corporate Vice President, General CounselScott Noesen, Director of Sustainable Development