In 2013, this Welsh man claims to have accidentally thrown a hard drive containing the private key of 8000 bitcoins into his community’s landfill. He now has a plan out of a sci-fi script to get it back.
Ten years later he still won’t let go. James Howells, a 36-year-old Welshman from the city of Newport, wants to recover his 8,000 bitcoins lost in 2013 at any cost.
He claims he had two hard drives at the time, one blank, the other with the private key of his 8000 bitcoins mined in 2009. Unlucky: the one with that famous private key was accidentally thrown in his community’s garbage dump. The current value of its crypto assets is over $170 million.
An $11 million plan
For years, this Welshman has faced Newport City Council’s refusal to dig into the landfill to recover his hard drive, due to cost and environmental concerns. Almost ten years later, having seen Bitcoin price skyrocket over time despite recent crypto crashes, he still doesn’t despair.
The latter mentioned to Business Insider a plan that appears to have sprung from a science fiction scenario. With two possible scenarios: One that consists of excavating more than 110,000 tons of rubbish over three years at a cost of 11 million dollars (two Swiss investors would have agreed to finance this plan if approved by the municipal council). others would cost $6 million and take 18 months.
To achieve this, James Howells intends to surround himself with 8 specialized experts: from artificial intelligence assisted sorting to landfill excavation and waste management. Among the experts was even “a consultant who worked for a company that recovered data from the black box of the crashed space shuttle Columbia”. Robotic dogs would also be part of the operation, which is filmed 24 hours a day. James Howells is a firm believer in his plan and estimates that if the ‘platter’ on his hard drive is not damaged, there is up to a 90% chance of recovering his data.
“His proposals pose a significant ecological risk”
“After the excavation, the rubbish would be cleaned up and recycled as much as possible, Howells said. The rest would be buried again,” Howells told Business Insider. That doesn’t seem to be enough for the council.
“His proposals pose a significant environmental risk that we cannot accept and that cannot be considered under the terms of our permit,” a city councilor told media.
Should the famous hard drive be found, James Howells stated that he would keep 30% of the assets, with a third going to the recovery team, 30% to investors and the rest to local causes.
James Howells seems intent on following through with the process. If the community refuses, he says he is ready to attack the local authority as his actions constitute an “illegal embargo” on the disk.