Looking for a Bitcoin in a Landfill

They used to say that there was gold in them their hills. Well now it’s a case of ‘there’s £275 million worth of Bitcoin in a Newport landfill. Will it ever be recovered though?

James Howell, 35, got rid of his hard drive on a landfill but it has that massive amount of Bitcoin on it. Such is the understandable desire of Mr Howell to find the drive, he’s offered the local council £55 million to help him search it but they refuse to help him.

It was eight years ago when James decided it was time to clean his office. That led to the hard drive being thrown away. Since then, he’s been in touch with environmentalists, data recovery experts and engineers hoping they can help him find his lost fortune.

His local council aren’t being much help at all. They’ve even refused to meet him so he can chat to them about the situation. Not even the promise of £55 million is enough to get them to help. All a bit strange when it’s hard to find a council that hasn’t got major financial problems.

“All I want is to put my case to the decision makers and if they still say no then so be it, but they won’t even do that,” said the frustrated treasure hunter to The Sun Online. The council is adamant that they won’t be helping him, even if he made that £55 million payment to them.

Newport Council say that Howells has been making repeated requests for assistance over the past seven years. However, the council say they are “unable” to help him. A council spokesperson said: “The cost of digging up the landfill, storing and treating the waste could run into millions of pounds – without any guarantee of either finding it or it still being in working order.” There’s also the environmental impact on the surrounding area, so help from the council isn’t looking possible.

It wouldn’t be an easy task to find the hard drive. After studying aerial photos of the site, James believes his hard drive is in a 200-metre squared area. The problem it could be as much as 15 metres deep. He reckons there’s between 300,000 and 400,000 tonnes of waste that will have to be sorted through.

He has had one offer of help though from a hedge fund. They are prepared to fund the cost of any search and the equipment. Of course, if the hard drive was found, they would like a high percentage of the Bitcoin.

James said: “This would be a proper search – not just somebody going in with a bucket and spade.” Scanning devices would be used that “would be trained to recognise items that are a similar size and density to the hard drive.” Those would cost around £500,000. Then there’s another £100,000 to buy an extractor to ensure the site isn’t polluted. But would all that find that hard drive? Only time will tell.