Chemical Spill Over London Olympics

A petition that has gathered over 11,000 names world-wide to remove Dow Chemical as a sponsor of the main stadium at the London Olympics is slowly making an impact.  That it has taken international petitioning to bring attention to the company that is owner of Union Carbide, the company responsible for the Bhopal disaster, shows how low governance and common sense have reached in Britain where money can buy honour and prestige no matter what your history.

The Bhopal chemical/gas disaster is almost the largest corporate catastrophe to date with prudent estimates of the death toll running to over 20,000 and the environmental legacy is still in existence even now.  In addition to the moral and ethical problems associated with the petition it is now emerging that the tendering process for the high profile sponsorship deal that Dow Chemicals won was not administered with fairness and transparency.

Poor show from a world capital.


7 Comments to “Chemical Spill Over London Olympics”

  1. I hate to be a devil’s advocate, but Dow Chemicals only bought the parent company that owns Union Carbide in 2001, whereas the Bhopal disaster happened in 1984, many a year before any of us can remember. To say that once a company makes a mistake it is tarnished forever is not fair. We live in a society that believes in rehabilitation of people, so why not companies too. Health and Safety has improves in leaps and bounds since then, and it’s been sponsored and advocated by companies like Dow Chemicals.

    Some of the other Olympic sponsors are companies like Coca-Cola – they have an atrocious record for ongoing human rights abuses in developing countries. Just put “coca cola human rights abuses” into Wikipedia or Google and see what comes up…

    And then you’ve got companies like BP and Rio Tinto – what have they got to do with the running of the Olympics? And why are they any better than Dow Chemicals with regards to how they treat people?

    So ok, you have companies responsible for accidental gas leakages killing thousands of people. What about governments that intentionally wreak havoc? The USA’s experiment with Agent Orange in Vietnam springs to mind… estimates are that 400,000 people were killed or maimed and 500,000 children born with birth defect, with uncountable numbers affected by increased cancer rates and other health problems. So let’s sign a petition to ban all American officials from coming to the Olympics. Incidentally, Agent Orange used to be manufactured by Dow Chemicals…

    Carry on in this way and soon, you’ll have no one left to attend the Olympics at all.

    My final point is that if the tendering process wasn’t fair, then that’s the fault of the Olympic committee, not just of the company. The company I work for is also one of the Olympic sponsors and I know for a fact that we had to go through a very rigorous vetting process. That same process should have applied to all companies.

  2. I agree that almost any large multi-national company has probably benefited from a murky past. I wonder why everyone has their knickers in a twist about Dow Chemicals and not the other companies. I also wonder if all 11,000 signatories of the petition have a pension plan and if they are concerned where their money is being invested and what sort of human rights record those companies have.

  3. I still don’t buy nestle products. rehabilitation is for people not corporates, they might put a PR plaster on one bad story and try to tidy up the mess but the blood will gush from another…until they get caught and so the cycle repeats.

  4. The Olympics, the world cup in fact all major events are sponsored by corporate who violate all sorts of human and social rights.
    This story started off that the Indian team were looking to boycott the Olympics but the sports Minister talked the team out of it – is this true? I can empathise with the Indian sentimentality over this but I totally agree with Mysterious Pinkie.

    Of course, the tendering process isn’t fair. It is never fair. The Committee need the big corporates because they have the money and power. Have you seen an application or tender document for the Olympics. Only large companies can win. Believe me, I know as I have tried to help SME companies win local work for this Olympics.

  5. Just because other companies are committing gross human and environmental abuses does not mean that we should turn a blind eye to this one or any of them. Whether you consume coca cola, nike or any other multinational’s products whilst acknowledging their CSR abuses is up to the individual but I think it’s illogical to use this argument. We are all overly cynical and saturated by the scale and number of abuses by multinationals that I think it’s overwhelming as almost every profit maximising corporation has skeletons

    However, I do not feel Dow Chemicals can put its past behind it until it acknowledges Union Carbide’s poor safety record and sets up long term plans to rehabilitate Bhopal, forget its own reputation. I think it is important to draw attention to its past in relation to the Olympics as the sponsorship deal they won is one of the most prominent. Even if you want to forgive and forget at least people should be aware and not claim ignorance.

    Dr No, I agree Nestle is still a contender for boycotting. I boycotted it in my teenage years but then fell in love with kitkats again but once you sit and think about all the scandals they are involved in the chocolate has a bitter after taste and tea time is better with something else…. like Tunnocks! Good ol’ Scottish treat.

  6. Recently my husband was invited to drinks for a charity hosted by the former chief executive of Dow Chemicals. I didn’t know about the several millions of pounds of compensation given by the company to the Indian government in a bid to rehabilitate Bhopal, which was swallowed up through corruption. So what should have gone to the families and infrastructure as agreed with the government, went in the pockets of the Indian politicians.
    I am not saying this excuses what happened, it just shows how the media skew information to portray the image that they want to.

  7. Meredith Alexander , one of the commissioners of the ethics committee for the London Olympics, resigned from her unpaid post over this issue yesterday. She wants Dow Chemicals to withdraw sponsorship. This story isn’t over yet.

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