Newport, a seaside city in Wales, is famous for its docks and industrial heritage — and for allegedly having half a billion dollars worth of Bitcoin buried in its local landfill.
Former IT worker James Howell mined the cryptocurrency back in 2013, well before its value skyrocketed. In a mix-up, he accidentally threw away the hard drive its access key was stored on.
“I found a blank 20GB hard drive in my drawer instead of thousands of Bitcoin,” Howell told CBS News.
Since then, he’s been lobbying the local government to allow him to excavate tons of trash in the landfill as part of an attempt to find it. But local officials are refusing to let him.
“There are companies out there that dig at the bottom of the ocean for treasure. Digging a landfill is a damn sight bit easier than digging at the bottom of the ocean,” said Howell.
He said he’s contacted experts from around the world as part of his attempt to recover his huge Bitcoin fortune. Despite offering Newport City Council a cut of the coins if he were to find them, it continues to refuse the proposal citing environmental damage it could cause and that the council’s “duty is to provide services to our residents” — something it said Howell’s plan would get in the way of.
Still, Howell is determined to keep trying to find the hard drive.
“I’m not gonna to give up on it, because it’s you know, like I said, it’s a lost lottery ticket,” he said. ” A lottery ticket would disintegrate but a hard drive doesn’t. It’s not going anywhere.”