Olympic chiefs under fire over sponsor's links to Bhopal disaster

Games organisers did deal with owner of chemical firm that refuses to pay clean-up costs

Olympic organisers are under growing pressure to reconsider a lucrative sponsorship deal that was awarded to a controversial US chemicals firm which has "failed to address one of the worst corporate-related human rights disasters of the 20th century".

Amnesty International will today demand that Lord Coe publicly reveal how the deal with the Dow Chemical Company (Dow), which gives it "exclusive marketing rights" to the main stadium, complies with London 2012's ethical code.

Dow is the 100 per cent owner of Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), the company responsible for the 1984 gas disaster in Bhopal, India, which is thought to have killed 10,000 in its immediate aftermath and 15,000 since.

The company's name will be emblazoned on the £7m artwork "wrap" around the main stadium, guaranteeing months of exposure. Dow and UCC are defendants in a public-interest litigation case in an Indian state court for clean-up of the factory site. They have refused to comply with an application by an Indian Ministry request of 100m rupees (£1.26m) as an advance for clean-up costs.

Health and human rights groups in Bhopal continue to report high rates of congenital deformities and cancers among families who are forced to use contaminated groundwater sources.

More than 10 independent scientific studies show dangerous levels of chemicals such as carbon tetrachloride in water supplies. Earlier this month, The Independent witnessed children as young as eight filling sacks with contaminated soil from the factory landfill to use for building material in their homes.

MPs want the Government to intervene in the controversial deal, which threatens to overshadow the image of the London Games. Critics say Lord Coe must explain Locog's admission that the deal was struck after Dow provided "a full briefing" about Bhopal. The Bhopal Medical Appeal accuses Olympics organisers of "playing dumb over universal legal principles".

Tessa Jowell, the shadow Olympics minister, said last night: "Given the allegations which have been made about Dow's responsibilities in Bhopal it is clear that there are further pressing questions that they must answer."

Home Affairs Select Committee chair Keith Vaz has tabled an Early Day Motion condemning the decision. "If sustainability is at the heart of Locog's decision making as they claim, they need to look long and hard at their decision to do business with Dow," he said.

Dow bought UCC in 2001. It denies responsibility for UCC's Bhopal liabilities and claims the $470m paid by UCC in 1991 to disaster victims (now contested in the Supreme Court) was final. This is in stark contrast to the way it paid off UCC's asbestos-related liabilities in the US, which dated back to the early 1970s.

Dow, Olympic partner until 2020, said: "Today, the state government owns and controls the site and is in the best position, and has the authority under the direction of the courts to complete whatever remediation may be necessary."

A London 2012 spokeswoman said Dow had undergone a "rigorous procurement process. We asked Dow for, and received, a full briefing on the history of the 1984 Union Carbide Bhopal gas tragedy and details of ongoing litigation," she added.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before