As organisers celebrated the 200 day countdown to the start of this summer’s London Olympics, protesters were calling for Dow Chemical to be dropped as an event sponsor because the site of the 1984 Bhopal chemical disaster is still contaminated.
Opposition member of parliament Barry Gardiner who has been a leading campaigner against the company’s involvement in the games even challenged Olympic chiefs to drink water from the Indian city.
Considered one of the world’s worst industrial catastrophes, hundreds of thousands of people were exposed to toxic gas following a leak at the plant then owned by Union Carbide India Limited.
As many as 25,000 deaths have been attributed to the disaster.
Gardiner said: “It (the Olympic Games) cannot be a success whilst Dow Chemical remains the sponsor of the Olympic stadium wrap. They have a responsibility to clean up the site at Bhopal which was the scene of the worst chemical tragedy in human history.”
Survivor Farah Kahn was 10-years-old at the time and witnessed first hand the devastation the leak caused.
Khan now lives in London but believes the future generations of her home city remain at risk. He said: “To know that this company, which poisoned us, that their wrap is going around the stadium and that they are being sponsored in advertising their company and that they have actually poisoned and killed and are still killing people. What about the children who haven’t been born yet?”
Last year the chairman of the London Organising Committee, Lord Sebastian Coe, defended the US multinational company, who only bought the plant in 2001, saying they were not responsible for what happened and that compensation had been paid.