Dow has been given a contract to provide a decorative fabric wrap to encircle London’s Olympic stadium. Amnesty has written to the Olympic Games Organising Committee in protest

Amnesty International has charged that the award of a contract to the Chemical giant Dow for the 2012 London Olympic Games was a slap in the face to survivors of the December 3, 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy.

This high profile contract to the Dow Chemical Company, to provide a decorative fabric wrap to encircle London’s Olympic stadium, was given even as the survivors of the gas disaster still wait for justice, the human rights body said in a press release.

Since 2001, Dow has been a 100 per cent owner of the Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), the company which held a majority share in the Indian subsidiary that owned and operated the UCC plant responsible for the 1984 Bhopal accident.

“The Olympic Committee’s guidelines on sustainable sourcing are meant to place high priority on environmental, social and ethical issues when procuring material for the Games,” said Seema Joshi, Amnesty International’s Head of Business and Human Rights. “In light of these principles, it is shocking to find that it has granted such a high profile contract to a firm which has failed to address one of the worst corporate related human rights disasters of the 20th century.”

“We feel that this denigrates the suffering of Bhopal’s survivors, and their long struggle for justice,” Ms. Joshi said.

Amnesty has also written to the Olympic Games Organising Committee in protest.

Twenty-seven years after the tragedy, the site still awaits clean-up and a thorough investigation into the leak and its impact. Survivors had not received fair compensation or access to the medical care they needed, it said.

The pesticide plant of the then UCC accidentally released methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas and other chemicals, exposing more than 500,000 people to toxic the fumes. The first official immediate death toll was 2,259. The government of Madhya Pradesh had confirmed a total of 3,787 deaths related to the gas release. Others estimated that 8,000 to 10,000 people had died within 72 hours and 25,000 died from the gas-related diseases in the subsequent years.

More In: National | News