|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
MAY 4, 2004
|CONTACT: Boston Common Asset Management
David Lerner (212) 260-5000
Lauren Compere, 617 720-5557
During 20th Anniversary of Worlds Worst Industrial Disaster Shareholders Seek To Hold Dow Accountable for Heath, Environmental and Social Impacts on Survivors
WASHINGTON - May 4 - --- TELE-PRESS CONFERENCE ---TIME: 11:00 AM (Eastern Standard Time), Thursday, May 6, 2004
CALL IN NUMBER: Toll-Free (U.S.) - 1-888-422-7101
International (Non-U.S.) - 1-608-250-9281
Pass code: 828626
1. Lauren Compere, Chief Administrative Officer, Boston Common Asset Management. Principal investor filer of Dow Chemical resolution.
2. Marc Brammer, Senior Analyst, Innovest Strategic Value Advisors. Primary Author of Dow Chemical: Risks for Investors.
3. Sanford Lewis, Legal Counsel for the Shareholder Proponents of Dow-Bhopal Resolution.
4. Nityanand Jayaraman, Representative for the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION: On May 13, 2004 in Midland, Michigan, a shareholder resolution filed by Boston Common Asset Management at Dow Chemical addressing its liability for the Bhopal, India survivors and site will be voted on by shareholders. The resolution calls on Dow to prepare a report describing the initiatives it has instituted to address the specific health, environmental and social concerns of the Bhopal survivors. Boston Common is also requesting that Dow quantify and analyze the impacts that the Bhopal disaster may reasonably pose to the company, its reputation, its finances, and its expansion in Asia and elsewhere. Boston Common filed the resolution on behalf of its client, the Brethren Benefit Trust, Inc., which holds 4,871 shares of Dow Chemical stock. Boston Common and co-filers of this resolution are responding to the growing controversy Dow faces because it continues to deny its responsibility to the Bhopal survivors. The 1984 Union Carbide gas disaster in Bhopal known as the Hiroshima of the Chemical Industry has claimed more than 20,000 lives to date and left an estimated 150,000 people chronically ill, 50,000 of whom are too sick to earn a living. The impact on survivors health continues to exceed the most pessimistic predictions. The compensation paid by Union Carbide is less than nine U.S. cents a day per victim a pathetically inadequate amount, given the economic and health needs of survivors, says Nityanand Jayaraman of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal.
Union Carbides $470 million compensation package covered only civil awards for the half million people exposed, leaving unresolved the potential damages for criminal charges and for punitive damages and environmental contamination unrelated to the disaster. Accused of culpable homicide, Union Carbide is officially a fugitive from justice, defying orders of the US and Indian courts to face trial in India, said Sanford Lewis, legal counsel for the proponents of the resolution. Lewis remarked The Dow Chemical strategy of refusing to submit to the jurisdiction of India's criminal courts could raise serious questions as to whether the company will abide by the rule of law in many other countries that might host Dow or Union Carbide operations."
Lauren Compere of Boston Common Asset Management remarked, Dow continues to deny liability for the Bhopal survivors and the remediation of the Bhopal site but asserts that there are significant legal risks associated with assisting survivors further, and yet fails to provide a balanced review of those risks as against the other costs posed to the company of failing to respond to survivors needs. We feel that if Dow continues to do nothing to resolve this issue it may cause serious damage to Dows reputation, which may affect its growth prospects in Asia and beyond. Therefore, we are giving shareholders the opportunity to send a strong message to management that Dow should address these issues quickly.
Marc Brammer, the primary author of an April 2004 a report Dow Chemical: Risks for Investors noted Dow Chemical is facing significant environmentally and socially-related pressures. While most chemical companies carry ample environmental liability burdens, Dow appears to have many large scale challenges converging all at once in this area. While facing shareholder questions about the ongoing Bhopal disaster in its most recent proxy statement, the company is also dealing with major risks such as asbestos, Agent Orange, dioxin contamination in Midland, Michigan, and numerous other risks relating to toxic chemicals and polluting by-products in its product portfolio. All these risks taken together indicate that the company will be under increasing pressure from investors and potential investors to mitigate these issues.
For addition information prior to the call please go to http://asyousow.hypermart.net/dow/analysis2.htm
for the following additional reports:
1. Dow Chemical: Risk for Investors PowerPoint Presentation April 21st
2. Dow Chemical Bhopal Resolution
3. Dow Chemical Bhopal Resolution Fact Sheet