Issue Date: November 21, 2011
Thousands of people perished in 1984 when a pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, leaked methyl isocyanate gas. The legacy of that industrial accident—the world’s worst—continues to haunt Dow Chemical, which bought the plant’s majority owner, Union Carbide, in 2001.
On Nov. 15, the appropriateness of Dow’s sponsorship of the 2012 Olympic Games in London was questioned at a U.K. parliamentary hearing. Dow is a global partner of the International Olympic Committee and has funded an $11 million fabric wrap that will surround the Olympic Stadium next summer.
Members of Parliament on the Culture, Media & Sport Committee expressed concern about Dow’s environmental, ethical, and social ideals.
But Sebastian Coe, an Olympic gold medal winner, former member of Parliament, and chair of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic & Paraolympic Games, defended the sponsorship. “We are satisfied that Dow were not the owners, the operators, or were involved with that plant at the time of the disaster,” he said.
In India, a coalition of nongovernmental organizations representing Bhopal survivors is demanding that London end Dow’s sponsorship of the games.
Separately, an item in India’s claims that India is exerting diplomatic pressure on the U.S. to remove Dow CEO Andrew N. Liveris from the U.S.-India CEO Forum, which promotes bilateral business relations. According to the story, India considers Liveris’ membership in the forum too controversial. Dow denies any effort to push Liveris out of the forum.
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