NEWS
24/10/2011 05:25 BST | Updated 22/12/2011 05:12 GMT

London 2012: Olympic Contract For Company 'Liable' For Bhopal Sparks Protest

Amnesty International has protested the decision to award an Olympic contract to a company that since 2001 has been the owner of the corporation responsible for a deadly 1984 toxic gas leak in India.

Dow Chemical Company (Dow) has been chosen by the Olympic Organising Committee (Locog) to provide the £7 million fabric wrap that will encircle the stadium during the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games.

In 2001 Dow bought the US-based Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), which in turn held a majority share in the Indian subsidiary that owned and operated the UCC plant responsible for the disaster.

The gas leak in Bhopal, India, killed between 7,000 and 10,000 people in the immediate aftermath.

Amnesty says that a further 15,000 people have been killed as a direct result of the leak since 1984.

They claim that the site of the disaster has not been properly cleaned up, has not been investigated thoroughly enough and add that 100,000 people still suffer from health problems relating to the leak.

A settlement of $470 million was reached in 1989, but Amnesty and other activists say that does not represent the true scale of the diaster. The Indian government has since filed a fresh demand for $1.1 billion in compensation from Dow.

The decision to award the contract to Dow has sparked outrage in India, and has led to calls for a boycott.

Activists point to the Olympic ethical sourcing code, which states that it will work towards "ensuring that products and services are sourced and produced under a set of internationally acceptable environmental, social and ethical guidelines and standards".

[CLICK HERE TO READ THE OLYMPIC SUSTAINABLE SOURCING GUIDELINES]

In its letter to the Locog, Amnesty claims that Dow does not meet that requirement.

The letter, signed by Amnesty's head of business Seema Joshi, says that Dow has resisted demands by activists and campaigners to take liability for the spill and address the "outstanding demands and the ongoing impacts of the disaster".

"Amnesty International was surprised to discover that Dow was awarded the tender pursuant to a completion of a due diligence process and satisfying conditions laid out in the Locog Sustainable Sourcing Code."

"Amnesty International requests that the Locog advise as to the basis on which it has considered that Dow, given the unaddressed legacy of human rights abuses and outstanding concerns relating to legal redress in Bhopal, complies with the requirements of the code", it continues.

"The fact that Dow is an official partners of the 2012 Olympic games continues to cause shock and distress among Bhopal survivors."

The letter adds that the Locog risks "delegitimising" the calls by Bhopal survivors for Dow to take responsibility for the disaster.

After a call for comment the Locog said they had not received the letter.

A spokesperson for the committee has previously stated that Dow did not own the plant in question at the time of the tragedy.

Dow has denied responsibility for the liabilities relating to the Bhopal disaster.

In a statement published in the Independent newspaper the company said: "The state government owns and controls the site [Bhopal] and is in the best position, and has the authority under the direction of the courts to complete whatever remediation may be necessary."