WW reported in March that a group of eight companies who face having to pay for a Superfund cleanup in the Portland Harbor spent $500,000 on an outreach campaign targeted at the ethnic and immigrant groups who most often fish in the Willamette River.
Some critics suggested that the Portland Harbor Partnership was in fact "trying to buy off" ethnic groups. The companies running the campaign through the Portland Harbor Partnership said that wasn't true.
The Portland Harbor Partnership has now released the results of 72 focus groups and 1,870 surveys—collected everywhere from a meeting of the Bass and Panfish Club, to a celebration of Vietnamese New Year at the Convention Center.
The results, published Thursday in a study by Portland State University, are anecdotal and inconclusive.
There's almost nothing concrete in the 38-page report: The clearest conclusion from the study is that participants had "minimal knowledge about the Superfund process itself."
But the report buttresses the Harbor companies' argument that people want to see "a balanced approach" to river cleanup (that is, one that doesn't cost any jobs).
The report contains only a few fleeting details about the contentious question of who actually fishes in the Willamette River. There are no numbers, only a couple survey responses from ethnic and immigrant respondents.
These stories do suggest a dependence on sustenance fishing.
"Tongans do not go out fishing on the weekends because it's beautiful out or sunny: they go out there for food," says one response. "Here in the U.S., we can only afford to buy frozen fish, because the fresh fish that we like is too expensive. For this reason, we must fish in order to be able to eat the fresh food we prefer."
The report also suggests that the Partnership tried to talk to the six Native American tribes who function as an independent government in negotiations with the EPA—and the companies got rebuffed.
"Although some briefings occurred with NAYA's Elder & Youth Council, Siletz, Nez Perce and Grand Ronde representatives, this is an area that could be improved if there is a second engagement phase," the report says.
Read the whole report here.