Bhopal survivors greet Olympic resignation


Survivors of the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster on Thursday welcomed the decision by an environmental official connected with the London Olympics to quit in protest over the event’s links to Dow Chemical.
US-based Dow, a major London 2012 sponsor, is the parent company of Union Carbide, whose pesticide plant leaked gas into the central city of Bhopal in 1984, killing tens of thousands of people in the world’s worst industrial accident.
Meredith Alexander announced her resignation Wednesday from her unpaid position on the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012, which monitors the environmental impact of the Olympics and Paralympics.
Alexander, who works for the ActionAid charity, also asked Dow to withdraw as sponsor of both the Games and the International Olympic Committee.
In Bhopal, survivors’ forums hailed her decision and said they hoped the step would prompt the Indian government to toughen its opposition to Dow’s links to the Games.
“We hope this will make LOCOG (Games organisers) dump Dow Chemical as a sponsor of the London Games,” said Rasheed Bee, the president of the Bhopal Gas Victim Workers’ Forum.
Five pressure groups congratulated Alexander in a joint statement and said were holding a day-long protest fast in Bhopal against the company’s involvement in the Olympics.
The Indian government last May filed a petition in the Supreme Court asking for higher compensation from the company, which was initially set at $470 million in a settlement reached in 1989.
Dow, which bought Union Carbide after the accident, insists that all of the company’s liabilities were settled in the 1989 agreement.