The New York State Common Retirement Fund, Albany, and the New York City Fire Department Pension Fund co-filed a shareholder resolution calling on Dow Chemical Co. to address outstanding issues regarding the 1984 explosion at a plant in Bhopal, India, William C. Thompson Jr., New York City comptroller and a trustee of the $5.6 billion fire department fund, announced today.
The resolution asks Dow management to report to shareholders by October 2006 on "new initiatives instituted by management to address specific health, environmental and social concerns of Bhopal ... survivors."
"Given our long investment horizon, we believe that it is our fiduciary obligation to urge companies in which we invest to be responsible corporate citizens in the communities in which they operate," Mr. Thompson said in the statement. "This approach is critical for ensuring the viability and sustainability of business in this rapidly growing global economy. Successful companies most likely will be the ones that incorporate sustainable use of environmental and social capital in their business decisions."
Amnesty International USA, Boston Common Asset Management and Sisters of Mercy Regional Community of Detroit Charitable Trust joined the fire department fund and the $128 billion state fund as co-sponsors. Together they hold 4.5 million Dow shares, valued at $190 million, the statement said.
Dow never owned or operated the Bhopal plant, which was owned by Union Carbide India Ltd., a company 50.9% owned by Union Carbide Corp. and 49.1% by Indian financial institutions and thousands of Indian private investors, according to Union Carbide's website. Union Carbide sold its stake in Union Carbide India to McLeod Russell (India) Ltd. in 1994, the website noted. Dow, based in Midland, Mich., acquired Union Carbide in 2001, said Scot Wheeler, Dow spokesman.
Mr. Wheeler said Dow officials won't comment on the proposal, wanting to assess the eligibility of the proposal for inclusion in the company's proxy statement.