London Olympics Further Tainted by Dow Chemical

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Activists and survivors of the 1984 Bhopal disaster

Activists and survivors of the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster demonstrate. (STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)

Since we last told you about Dow Chemical’s controversial Olympic sponsorship, things seem to have only gotten worse for Dow Chemical – from a public relations perspective anyway. Along with Dow Chemical’s horribly insensitive comments, the increased media attention has only revealed additional ethically troubling business practices.

The International Olympic Committee and games’ organizers continue (for now) solidly and uncritically back Dow as a sponsor, despite harsh criticism from Amnesty and others. But if Dow Chemical was hoping that it might benefit from the benevolent glow of the Olympic spirit of international goodwill, the past few weeks have not been kind.

For those needing some background, here it is. In 2001, Dow Chemical acquired Union Carbide (UCC), a chemical company that ran the pesticide plant that leaked over 40 tons of methyl isocyanate gas into the city of Bhopal, India in 1984. Over 20,000 people have been killed by the disaster and today over 100,000 suffer debilitating health problems.

Dow Chemical and Union Carbide have failed to adequately compensate victims’ families or affected survivors, to clean up the toxic site, or to appear in Indian courts. Dow Chemical’s CEO Andrew Liveris maintains that any claim that it might have any responsibilities to Bhopal’s survivors is “beyond belief”. Understandably, many Indians and activists are not happy with Dow Chemical.

In recent weeks new revelations have come to light. In mid-February, it was discovered that Dow Chemical knowingly violated a ban on the sale of Union Carbide products in India by selling millions of dollars of products through a web of intermediaries. Not only does this demonstrate Dow Chemical’s willingness to violate Indian law, it also undermines the company’s legal claim that it is a separate entity from Union Carbide and therefore not responsible in any way for remedying the situation in Bhopal.

By the end of February, Wikileaks had released emails between Dow Chemical and Texas-based private intelligence firm Stratfor. These revealed that Dow Chemical had paid to have Bhopal activists closely monitored for years, demonstrating an ongoing awareness and concern about the damage Bhopal continued to do to Dow Chemical’s reputation. Makes you wonder why Dow Chemical spent its money spying on activists instead of actually addressing the issues they have been raising for decades.

And then there was news that India will be partially boycotting the London Games, refusing to send an official delegation to the opening or closing ceremonies. Symbolic yes, but an embarrassment nonetheless for the London organizers and for Dow Chemical.

More athletes have become involved in the campaign against Dow Chemical and it remains important to make your voice heard. Please take action and let the US Olympic Committee know that this is not just an Indian issue, but a human rights issue, and that Dow Chemical’s sponsorship be more critically considered.

To learn more and help raise awareness about Bhopal, consider attending or hosting a screening of Bhopali, a new documentary about the disaster.

James Mutti, India Country Specialist for Amnesty International USA, contributed to this post

AIUSA welcomes a lively and courteous discussion that follow our Community Guidelines. Comments are not pre-screened before they post but AIUSA reserves the right to remove any comments violating our guidelines.

14 thoughts on “London Olympics Further Tainted by Dow Chemical

  1. Britain-Vietnam Friendship Society
    Flat 2, 26 Tomlins Grove, London E3 4NX
    Secretary: Len Aldis
    Tel: 0208 980 7146. Mobile: 0779 657 1017
    e-mail: lenaldis@yahoo.co.uk; http://www.lenaldis.co.uk
    Skype: Len.Aldis

    AN OPEN LETTER
    TO ALL COMMITTEE MEMBERS
    OF THE LONDON OLYMPIC AND PARALYMPIC GAMES

    Lord Coe. Chair; Sir Keith Mills, Deputy Chair; HRH the Princess Royal; Charles Allen;
    Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari; Sir Phillip Craven; Paul Deighton, Chief Exe; Jonathan Edwards;
    Tony Hall; Andrew Hunt; Justin King; Stephen Lovegrove; Adam Penglly; Tim Reddish;
    Lord Moynihan; Sir Craig Reedie; Martin Stewart; Sir Robin Wales. Mayor of Newham; Neil Wood.

    In a few weeks, unless you take action, the Olympic Stadium will have been surrounded by a wrap comprising 336 giant panels made by a company responsible for deaths of many thousands, including thousands of babies that died in their mother’s womb. Responsible for the deaths of many more thousands of those that lived for just a few months.

    That company is Dow Chemical, whose record was known to each and everyone of you through the many court cases it has had brought against them in the United States for disposing of tonnes of highly toxic waste into rivers and lakes near its plants. For lawsuits brought by American Vietnam Veterans and Vietnamese suffering from the effects of Agent Orange.

    But let me remind each of you, the biggest crime of Dow Chemical was its part, along with 35 other U.S. Chemical Companies, headed by Monsanto, in manufacturing Agent Orange used with devastating effect on Southern Vietnam for a period of TEN-YEARS, yes, TEN-YEARS. 80 million litres of the chemical was sprayed over the forests, crops, hamlets and the PEOPLE themselves, from August 1961 to 1971, resulting in the deaths mentioned above.

    Through the use of Agent Orange, Dow Chemical and the others have left a legacy that today in Vietnam affects four million. It has also entered into the fourth generation. From my first visit in 1989 and each year since, I have met and seen many of these tragic victims, of all ages, from new born babies that are minus feet and sometimes hand, young children suffering from water on the brain, and their heads four-times the normal size where their illness is slowly crushing the brain that ends in death.

    I have met with youngsters minus a limb, some minus two; some will be confined to a bed or wheelchair for the rest of their lives unable to fend for themselves. In Dong Nai I met a mother and her two daughters both unable to move or speak but just lay on their bed, the mother looks after them and their needs and has done so for 42 years, the age of her eldest daughter, the other daughter is 36 years. I could describe more of the people I have met over the past 22 years. But what angers me more is when I see children affected that were born after the spraying stopped in 1971 and long after the ward ended in 1975.

    This is what Dow Chemicals has done to the people of Vietnam, and each of you have seemed fit to support the appointment of the company to be a sponsor of the Games that opens in London on 27th July despite the many objections made by people from a number of countries.
    Shame on you all.

    Len Aldis. Secretary

  2. Britain-Vietnam Friendship Society
    Flat 2, 26 Tomlins Grove, London E3 4NX
    Secretary: Len Aldis
    Tel: 0208 980 7146. Mobile: 0779 657 1017
    e-mail: lenaldis@yahoo.co.uk; http://www.lenaldis.co.uk
    Skype: Len.Aldis

    AN OPEN LETTER
    TO ALL COMMITTEE MEMBERS
    OF THE LONDON OLYMPIC AND PARALYMPIC GAMES

    Lord Coe. Chair; Sir Keith Mills, Deputy Chair; HRH the Princess Royal; Charles Allen;
    Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari; Sir Phillip Craven; Paul Deighton, Chief Exe; Jonathan Edwards;
    Tony Hall; Andrew Hunt; Justin King; Stephen Lovegrove; Adam Penglly; Tim Reddish;
    Lord Moynihan; Sir Craig Reedie; Martin Stewart; Sir Robin Wales. Mayor of Newham; Neil Wood.

    In a few weeks, unless you take action, the Olympic Stadium will have been surrounded by a wrap comprising 336 giant panels made by a company responsible for deaths of many thousands, including thousands of babies that died in their mother’s womb. Responsible for the deaths of many more thousands of those that lived for just a few months.

    That company is Dow Chemical, whose record was known to each and everyone of you through the many court cases it has had brought against them in the United States for disposing of tonnes of highly toxic waste into rivers and lakes near its plants. For lawsuits brought by American Vietnam Veterans and Vietnamese suffering from the effects of Agent Orange.

    But let me remind each of you, the biggest crime of Dow Chemical was its part, along with 35 other U.S. Chemical Companies, headed by Monsanto, in manufacturing Agent Orange used with devastating effect on Southern Vietnam for a period of TEN-YEARS, yes, TEN-YEARS. 80 million litres of the chemical was sprayed over the forests, crops, hamlets and the PEOPLE themselves, from August 1961 to 1971, resulting in the deaths mentioned above.

    Through the use of Agent Orange, Dow Chemical and the others have left a legacy that today in Vietnam affects four million. It has also entered into the fourth generation. From my first visit in 1989 and each year since, I have met and seen many of these tragic victims, of all ages, from new born babies that are minus feet and sometimes hand, young children suffering from water on the brain, and their heads four-times the normal size where their illness is slowly crushing the brain that ends in death.

    I have met with youngsters minus a limb, some minus two; some will be confined to a bed or wheelchair for the rest of their lives unable to fend for themselves. In Dong Nai I met a mother and her two daughters both unable to move or speak but just lay on their bed, the mother looks after them and their needs and has done so for 42 years, the age of her eldest daughter, the other daughter is 36 years. I could describe more of the people I have met over the past 22 years. But what angers me more is when I see children affected that were born after the spraying stopped in 1971 and long after the ward ended in 1975.

    This is what Dow Chemicals has done to the people of Vietnam, and each of you have seemed fit to support the appointment of the company to be a sponsor of the Games that opens in London on 27th July despite the many objections made by people from a number of countries.
    Shame on you all.

    Len Aldis. Secretary

  3. Britain-Vietnam Friendship Society
    Flat 2, 26 Tomlins Grove, London E3 4NX
    Secretary: Len Aldis
    Tel: 0208 980 7146. Mobile: 0779 657 1017
    e-mail: lenaldis@yahoo.co.uk; http://www.lenaldis.co.uk
    Skype: Len.Aldis

    AN OPEN LETTER
    TO ALL COMMITTEE MEMBERS
    OF THE LONDON OLYMPIC AND PARALYMPIC GAMES

    Lord Coe. Chair; Sir Keith Mills, Deputy Chair; HRH the Princess Royal; Charles Allen;
    Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari; Sir Phillip Craven; Paul Deighton, Chief Exe; Jonathan Edwards;
    Tony Hall; Andrew Hunt; Justin King; Stephen Lovegrove; Adam Penglly; Tim Reddish;
    Lord Moynihan; Sir Craig Reedie; Martin Stewart; Sir Robin Wales. Mayor of Newham; Neil Wood.

    In a few weeks, unless you take action, the Olympic Stadium will have been surrounded by a wrap comprising 336 giant panels made by a company responsible for deaths of many thousands, including thousands of babies that died in their mother’s womb. Responsible for the deaths of many more thousands of those that lived for just a few months.

    That company is Dow Chemical, whose record was known to each and everyone of you through the many court cases it has had brought against them in the United States for disposing of tonnes of highly toxic waste into rivers and lakes near its plants. For lawsuits brought by American Vietnam Veterans and Vietnamese suffering from the effects of Agent Orange.

    But let me remind each of you, the biggest crime of Dow Chemical was its part, along with 35 other U.S. Chemical Companies, headed by Monsanto, in manufacturing Agent Orange used with devastating effect on Southern Vietnam for a period of TEN-YEARS, yes, TEN-YEARS. 80 million litres of the chemical was sprayed over the forests, crops, hamlets and the PEOPLE themselves, from August 1961 to 1971, resulting in the deaths mentioned above.

    Through the use of Agent Orange, Dow Chemical and the others have left a legacy that today in Vietnam affects four million. It has also entered into the fourth generation. From my first visit in 1989 and each year since, I have met and seen many of these tragic victims, of all ages, from new born babies that are minus feet and sometimes hand, young children suffering from water on the brain, and their heads four-times the normal size where their illness is slowly crushing the brain that ends in death.

    I have met with youngsters minus a limb, some minus two; some will be confined to a bed or wheelchair for the rest of their lives unable to fend for themselves. In Dong Nai I met a mother and her two daughters both unable to move or speak but just lay on their bed, the mother looks after them and their needs and has done so for 42 years, the age of her eldest daughter, the other daughter is 36 years. I could describe more of the people I have met over the past 22 years. But what angers me more is when I see children affected that were born after the spraying stopped in 1971 and long after the ward ended in 1975.

    This is what Dow Chemicals has done to the people of Vietnam, and each of you have seemed fit to support the appointment of the company to be a sponsor of the Games that opens in London on 27th July despite the many objections made by people from a number of countries.
    Shame on you all.

    Len Aldis. Secretary

  4. Well done Len and thanks for opening up another ugly face of Dow chemicals …Agent Orange and 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy .. I want to post very simple question to these non sense British politicians and IOC members … if something like this would have been happened to your own people , so called developed world including US , what you have done ? Are people in developing countries not human ??

    I hope India will boycott London olympics and shame on IOC members and if India don't show courage to protect , shame on Indian Govt and Indian olympic commitee.

  5. Well done Len and thanks for opening up another ugly face of Dow chemicals …Agent Orange and 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy .. I want to post very simple question to these non sense British politicians and IOC members … if something like this would have been happened to your own people , so called developed world including US , what you have done ? Are people in developing countries not human ??

    I hope India will boycott London olympics and shame on IOC members and if India don’t show courage to protect , shame on Indian Govt and Indian olympic commitee.

  6. Thank you for posting these! I tore them out of the paper and posted them all over my room during high school and college. I was mourning their absence in my life just last week…my favorite was the "banishment" photo (second from bottom).

  7. Thank you for posting these! I tore them out of the paper and posted them all over my room during high school and college. I was mourning their absence in my life just last week…my favorite was the “banishment” photo (second from bottom).

  8. Amnesty International is still on the wrong side of the Syria situation. The USA, and UK have had special forces on the ground since day one fomenting terror and aiding the rag tag pack of terrorists which is a duplication of what was done to Libya.

    I was asked to complete a survey for Amnesty in the USA, and after completing , and forwarding it, I sent an email to Amnesty in the USA requesting that they answer a number of questions about the situation in Syria. They chose not to answer.

    Pogo Possum was correct when he said ' I have seen the enemy and it is us ' ! I will donate again when you ask for donations to stop the USA from fomenting wars around the world, in order to steal the oil (or other wealth ) from sovereign countries.

    You have become a tool of the USA right wing Neo-Cons.
    Ray

  9. Amnesty International is still on the wrong side of the Syria situation. The USA, and UK have had special forces on the ground since day one fomenting terror and aiding the rag tag pack of terrorists which is a duplication of what was done to Libya.

    I was asked to complete a survey for Amnesty in the USA, and after completing , and forwarding it, I sent an email to Amnesty in the USA requesting that they answer a number of questions about the situation in Syria. They chose not to answer.

    Pogo Possum was correct when he said ‘ I have seen the enemy and it is us ‘ ! I will donate again when you ask for donations to stop the USA from fomenting wars around the world, in order to steal the oil (or other wealth ) from sovereign countries.

    You have become a tool of the USA right wing Neo-Cons.
    Ray

  10. Len Aldis vs. Dow Chemical
    http://www.salem-news.com/articles/april072012/le

    Victims have suffered four generations as companies like Dow Chemical look to hide the facts and bury the truth in search of more profit…

    (LONDON) – Many of you have expressed an interest in the current controversy surrounding Dow Chemical Sponsorship of the 2012 Olympics. Len Aldis has received substantial worldwide support for his campaign to stop Dow from wrapping the Olympic Stadium with 336 panels of corporate advertising.

    Dow Chemical was a major responsible party involved in the American Agent Orange campaign against the people of Vietnam. The front page of Len's website contains the correspondence Len has written in support of the millions of Vietnamese Victims of Agent Orange. I urge you to forward this material to colleagues and the media.

    It's 'business as usual' for the United States as they move on from one tragic war to another. But we must not forget the terrible tragedy of the American War in Vietnam and the Victims who through four generations continue to suffer through no fault of their own as companies like Dow Chemical look to hide the facts and bury the truth in search of more profit as their Victims continue to suffer.

    And let's not forget Napalm, another Dow product and one of the most quoted passages of a U.S.Army source:

    ‘We sure are pleased with those backroom boys at Dow. The original product wasn’t so hot – if the gooks were quick they could scrape it off. So the boys started adding polystyrene – now it sticks like shit to a blanket. But if the gooks jumped under water it stopped burning, so they started adding Willie Peter (white phosphorous ) so’s to make it burn better. And just one drop is enough, it’ll keep on burning right down to the bone so they die anyway from phosphorus poisoning.’

    "The Vietnam war memorial in Washington is 492 feet long. If a similar war memorial had been made for the Vietnamese who died, with the same density of names, it would be nine miles long."

    Dow should be ashamed of itself! Justice for the Victims of Agent Orange!
    http://www.lenaldis.co.uk/

    Mark Shapiro
    London UK

    Curiously 58 years ago today April 7 1954 US President Dwight D Eisenhower gave his (so called) 'famous' domino theory speech. Little did he know what a positive, progressive, democratic country Vietnam would become.
    http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/eisenh

  11. Len Aldis vs. Dow Chemical

    http://www.salem-news.com/articles/april072012/len-aldis-ms.php

    Victims have suffered four generations as companies like Dow Chemical look to hide the facts and bury the truth in search of more profit…

    (LONDON) – Many of you have expressed an interest in the current controversy surrounding Dow Chemical Sponsorship of the 2012 Olympics. Len Aldis has received substantial worldwide support for his campaign to stop Dow from wrapping the Olympic Stadium with 336 panels of corporate advertising.

    Dow Chemical was a major responsible party involved in the American Agent Orange campaign against the people of Vietnam. The front page of Len’s website contains the correspondence Len has written in support of the millions of Vietnamese Victims of Agent Orange. I urge you to forward this material to colleagues and the media.

    It’s ‘business as usual’ for the United States as they move on from one tragic war to another. But we must not forget the terrible tragedy of the American War in Vietnam and the Victims who through four generations continue to suffer through no fault of their own as companies like Dow Chemical look to hide the facts and bury the truth in search of more profit as their Victims continue to suffer.

    And let’s not forget Napalm, another Dow product and one of the most quoted passages of a U.S.Army source:

    ‘We sure are pleased with those backroom boys at Dow. The original product wasn’t so hot – if the gooks were quick they could scrape it off. So the boys started adding polystyrene – now it sticks like shit to a blanket. But if the gooks jumped under water it stopped burning, so they started adding Willie Peter (white phosphorous ) so’s to make it burn better. And just one drop is enough, it’ll keep on burning right down to the bone so they die anyway from phosphorus poisoning.’

    “The Vietnam war memorial in Washington is 492 feet long. If a similar war memorial had been made for the Vietnamese who died, with the same density of names, it would be nine miles long.”

    Dow should be ashamed of itself! Justice for the Victims of Agent Orange!

    http://www.lenaldis.co.uk/

    Mark Shapiro
    London UK

    Curiously 58 years ago today April 7 1954 US President Dwight D Eisenhower gave his (so called) ‘famous’ domino theory speech. Little did he know what a positive, progressive, democratic country Vietnam would become.

    http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/eisenhower-gives-famous-domino-theory-speech