By Avril Ormsby
LONDON Jan 26 A member of the body
overseeing the environmental and ethical impact of the London
Olympics said she quit her post on live television to give
victims of the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster in India a voice in
their fight against U.S. firm Dow Chemical.
Dow was chosen by Games organisers to make the hundreds of
plastic panels that will decorate the outside of the main
stadium in a sponsorship deal that has angered many Indians,
including current and former Olympic athletes.
Activists say 25,000 people died in the years that followed
the gas leak at a pesticides factory in the central Indian city
of Bhopal. Dow bought the plant's owner Union Carbide in 1999
and campaigners have demanded that it boosts a 1989 compensation
package for those affected by the disaster.
Meredith Alexander, who sat on the Commission for a
Sustainable London 2012 (CSL), which effectively audits the
London organising committee's (Locog) environmental and ethical
decisions, quit during a live BBC programme late on Wednesday.
"I feel Dow Chemicals has been given a platform to air their
side of the story, but really nobody has been talking to the
victims or the families of people who lost loved ones in the
tragedy," she told Reuters on Thursday.
"I am not a victim and I can't pretend to speak for them but
what I can do is make sure that some of their views and concerns
Alexander, who worked for CSL on a voluntary basis 20 days a
year alongside her post at the charity ActionAid, said she did
not want to be part of a body that "became an apologist" for Dow
One of 12 CSL commissioners, Alexander said she knew of "a
number of people (on the body) who are deeply disturbed" by
Dow's sponsorship, but did not know whether they would resign.
She called on Dow to clean up the Bhopal site and for Locog
to cancel the contract, arguing the stadium wrap was just an
Dow, which is also a worldwide partner of the International
Olympic Committee (IOC), has denied any responsibility for the
accident and says Union Carbide had settled its liabilities with
the Indian government.
Tarlochan Singh, vice-president of the Indian Olympic
Association, told Reuters by phone: "This resignation today is a
boost to our demand that the International Olympic Committee
should disassociate itself from the Dow company."
Locog's Chief Executive Paul Deighton said he was
"absolutely comfortable" with its decision.
"I think the real question that needs to be asked is what
happened to the money that Dow paid and what's happening in
India in terms of the responsibility to clear-up that site," he
The wrap threatens to become an issue in this May's London
mayoral election, with Labour's candidate, former mayor Ken
Livingstone, calling on incumbent Boris Johnson to find another
"The controversy over Dow's sponsorship over the Olympic
stadium threatens long lasting damage to the reputation of the
Olympic Games and to the reputation of London," Livingstone said
in a statement.