Protesters, including Amnesty International, Greenpeace, some British politicians and the government of India are demanding that Dow, headquartered in Midland, Mich., pay $1.7 billion to victims of the release of chemicals at Union Carbide's Bhopal facility, the Detroit News reported Thursday.
Union Carbide paid victims $470 million, through the Indian government, in 1989. Dow bought Union Carbide in 2001.
The incident remained a part of history until Dow and the Olympics signed a 10-year sponsorship agreement in 2010, and what promised to be a fulfilling relationship for both parties is becoming a public relations nightmare for Dow, the newspaper said.
Although Dow has called the Bhopal disaster "a terrible tragedy" and says it "understands the lingering concern," it points out it had nothing to do with the disaster, that all liabilities have been settled and that any remaining issues should be directed to the Indian government, which took over responsibility for the site in 1998.
Still, "It would seem unwise for Dow not to acknowledge the anger and the viewpoint in London by these protesters," Rajeev Batra, University of Michigan marketing professor, said.
Roger Calantone, of Michigan State University's marketing department, pointed out that the longer the controversy drags on, the more difficulty Dow will have with negative publicity, the newspaper said.
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