Controversial London 2012 Olympics sponsor plays down links to chemical disaster


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The Independent Online

One of the heads of Dow Chemical, the company at the centre of a row over their London 2012 sponsorship, has labelled attempts to link the firm to the 1984 Bhopal disaster as "misinformed, misguided and misdirected".

The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) have protested against Dow sponsoring the fabric stadium 'wrap' at the Olympic Stadium because the firm now owns Union Carbide, the company responsible for the Bhopal gas leak in which thousands died.

Dow's vice-president of Olympic operations George Hamilton said they had only acquired Union Carbide in 2001.

Hamilton told "We have been surprised about how much attention has been given to it and how a few politicians here in the UK have enthusiastically jumped on this topic.

"The facts are that this incident happened in 1984, and from the horrific nature of that incident it's understandable that we're talking about Bhopal today.

"What's not understandable is how there's so many people misguided and misinformed about the facts."

Hamilton said the Indian Supreme Court upheld a compensation settlement as fair and just in 1991 and Union Carbide paid the money in 1994 before selling their interest in India, with Dow buying the company in 2001.

He added: "So Carbide did its part, paid what was fair and just, and exited. The Indian government who owned the site, they owned the land, they leased the land to UCIL, they then retook over that plant site in 1998 with the intention of cleaning up the site.

"Here we are 27 years later, and folks want to bring Dow into this who was never there, who didn't own it, didn't operate it, didn't buy any of the liabilities of Union Carbide who had paid their issues and left the country - trying to paint Dow with being associated with Bhopal.

"It's misinformed, misguided and misdirected."

IOA acting president VK Malhotra said last month Dow had launched a "false campaign" claiming victims had been paid final compensation of £288million.

In a letter to IOC President Jacques Rogge, Mr Malhotra said Dow should be removed as sponsors of the Games.

He said: "I ask you to urgently take this matter up with the organisers of the London Games and also convey our concerns to them and ensure the matter is sorted out amicably.

"A false campaign has been launched by the Dow Chemical's saying that matter has been settled. It is not correct. The case is still pending in the court and no final compensation has been made."