Posted: 26 January 2012
The reputation of the London 2012 Olympic Games suffered a serious blow today after the resignation of ethics commissioner Meredith Alexander over her concerns about the sponsorship deal with Dow, a company associated with the largest chemical disaster of our time.
Bhopal’s massive gas leak, killed between 7,000 and 10,000 people in its immediate aftermath, and a further 15,000 over the next 20 years. More than 100,000 people continue to suffer from serious health problems as a consequence of the 1984 leak of toxic chemicals from a Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, India. Dow became 100 per cent owner of the Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) in 2001.
Meredith Alexander was appointed by the London mayor Boris Johnson to serve on the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 (CSL) – the ethics body that monitors the processes of all the bodies responsible for delivering the 2012 Games.
In recent weeks, CSL publically defended the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games’ (LOCOG) decision to appoint Dow to sponsor a 900m wrap around the Olympic Stadium at a reported cost of £7 million.
That decision, and the Olympic bodies’ subsequent defence of Dow, enraged Alexander and human rights groups across the globe, including Amnesty International.
Meredith Alexander said:
“I don’t want to be party to a defence of Dow Chemicals, the company responsible for one of the worst corporate human rights violations in my generation. It is appalling that 27 years on, the site has still not been cleaned up and thousands upon thousands of people are still suffering.
“I believe people should be free to enjoy London 2012 without this toxic legacy on their conscience.”
Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK, added:
“Meredith Alexander has made a brave and principled stand. She obviously shares our outrage at this association and it is a shame that her concerns, like ours, have been repeatedly dismissed.
“It is appalling that Dow has never accepted responsibility for the legacy of the horrific Bhopal tragedy.
“Their responsibility for gross human rights violations has been under wraps for too long, and it is high time they came to the table with the victims.”
Since the disaster, survivors and human rights groups including Amnesty International have been campaigning for Dow to address the ongoing impacts of the disaster, including ongoing contamination of water by chemical waste, but the company has consistently ignored these calls, denying any responsibility for UCC's liabilities in Bhopal.