On the night of December 2-3 in 1984, a poisonous gas leak from Union Carbide India Ltd's pesticide plant in Bhopal killed more than 15,000 people and maimed half a million more. Though the Indian government initially demanded $3.3 billion as compensation, it scaled it down to $500 million and ultimately agreed to Supreme Court supervised settlement for receiving $ 470 million in 1989 as full and final compensation from UCC. Times of India 3/12/11
This sum has been seen as derisory in the circumstances. There has been a long-running campaign to get the 2nd biggest chemical company in the world to pay more towards the victims and to clean up the toxic nightmare that is the legacy of the incident. The Indian Supreme Court weighed in on the side of campaigners. However, efforts to make Dow Chemicals pay more have been met with contempt. The Company issued a terse statement last week saying it does not recognise the Supreme Court of India as it has no jurisdiction over Dow. It also maintains the incident happened a long time before they took over Union Carbide so ‘nowt to do with us, squire’.
This is a company with form. During the Vietnam War, the good ole USA sprayed thousands of gallons of highly toxic defoliant on the jungles in Vietnam. It was known as Agent Orange. Not only did this cause an environmental disaster it also seriously affected any person coming into contact with it including military personnel who worked with the chemicals. And who made this lethal toxic spray? Step forward Dow Chemical and Monsanto.
A series of class action suits on behalf of Vietnam veterans and more recently, Vietnamese people damaged by their contact with Agent Orange, have struggled to get anywhere against the might and wealth of these companies.
It has not stopped the company being deemed ‘fit and proper’ to sponsor the wrap - a series of panels which will go completely round the Dowlympic stadium. The company relishes the opportunity to associate itself with healthy, fit athletes. You betcha!
“Yesterday Coe and the London organising committee board rejected a call from a fellow board member and mayor of the Borough of Newham, Sir Robin Wales, to cancel Dow Chemical's sponsorship of the Olympic wrap.
Following their meeting, the Locog board said in a statement to Telegraph Sport that it had awarded Dow the sponsorship after a "rigorous procurement process with due consideration of its financial and reputational standing and its ability to deliver the best sustainable solution for the wrap". Telegraph 3/12/11
“Now his Olympic committee is facing a threat that would horrify any event manager. If it doesn't cut ties with Dow, protesters have vowed to hold their own "Bhopal Olympics" during the London games - an event contested by children with congenital disabilities attributed to the Bhopal gas leak.” Sports Illustrated 2/12/11
Dow’s mission statement: ‘To passionately innovate what is essential to human progress by providing sustainable solutions to our customers" with the vision: "To be the most profitable and respected science-driven chemical company in the world".