We cannot allow London Olympics to add insult to injury for victims of Bhopal

Barry Gardiner

Over the past month Labour Friends of India have led the campaign to kick Dow Chemical’s out of the London 2012 Olympics. Their award of a £7 million partnership deal has added insult to injury for the long suffering victims of the Bhopal chemical disaster. We now need one final push to ensure LOCOG do the right thing, and to protect the international reputation of the London 2012 games.

In August, LOCOG announced that it had awarded the contract to provide the decorative wrap for the Olympic Stadium to Dow Chemical Company. Dow own Union Carbide Corporation, the company responsible for the Bhopal gas disaster. In 1984 a UCC plant near the major city of Bhopal leaked toxic gases, causing the world’s worst ever industrial accident. As a result, some 25,000 people have died and up to 120,000 still suffer injuries as a result. Neither UCC nor Dow has ever properly remediated the site, which is still grossly contaminated. Some areas of Bhopal suffer birth defects at a rate ten times higher than the national average.

Victims of the disaster were given a paltry settlement by UCC in 1989, equating to approximately £630 per victim, and many thousands received nothing. Dow have repeatedly refused to properly compensate the victims or clean up the mess they inherited, despite it being perfectly clear that when you buy a company, you buy both it assets and its liabilities.

Dow is being pursued through the courts in both India and the US, by citizens and the Indian Government.

Dow are trying to use the wholesome and sustainable image of the Olympic Games to clean their terrible reputation, rather than cleaning the site at Bhopal.

LOCOG have unfortunately buried their head in the sand over this issue. They have repeatedly refused to answer our questions about the deal, or to meet with campaigners. The contract is worth a tiny fraction of the large under spend LOCOG have accrued through prudent management of what has otherwise been excellent execution of the London games.

Today is the 27th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster, and Labour Friends of India are holding a series of meetings and events across the globe to push LOCOG to act now. However we need help. We have teamed up with change.org to support a public petition urging LOCOG to ditch Dow.

Please help us stop yet another injustice being visited on the people of Bhopal and sign the petition. Once the petition gets to a certain point, Change.org will email it to their lists in India, the US and the UK, so your name really could make a HUGE difference.

Barry Gardiner MP (Brent north) is chair of Labour Friends of India

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