James Howells, a bitcoin enthusiast who misplaced 7,500 bitcoin (BTC) in a South Wales landfill, is gearing up to take legal action against the local city council for barring his efforts to unearth the missing hard drive from 2013. This former IT professional, now 38, has been at odds with Newport City Council for ten long years, rallying a 16-person crew to help retrieve the drive, now valued at $194 million.
Howells’ Legal Team Gives Newport City Council New Demands
A Telegraph report reveals that James Howells is gearing up to legally challenge the local city council in South Wales, which has denied his team permission to unearth a hard drive he suspects is buried beneath the landfill. Several years back, a hard drive laden with 7,500 of Howells’ bitcoin — now valued at $194 million based on today’s BTC exchange rates — inadvertently found its way into a landfill.
In a letter dispatched to the Newport City Council on September 4, Howells’ legal team sets a bold deadline: grant him digging rights by September 18. Determined, Howells is pushing for a judicial review regarding the council’s denial to grant him landfill access. Howells told Telegraph reporter Madeleine Ross:
I’ve tried everything I can for 10 years, they didn’t want to play ball, so now we have to go down the legal route … It doesn’t matter what that item is, whether it is bitcoin, gold, diamonds, to not even have the conversation is idiotic.
Howells has long been locked in a dispute with the city. Back in January 2021, he dangled an enticing offer before them: 25% of the BTC’s value if they permitted him to excavate to find the hard drive. Yet, that proposal fell on deaf ears.
Fast forward to July 2021, Howells unveiled an innovative strategy to the media, revealing plans to harness x-ray and artificial intelligence (AI) tools to pinpoint the device storing the BTC. In the latest interview with The Telegraph, he confirmed his commitment to those tech solutions and mentioned collaboration with the landfill’s seasoned retired site manager.
In his letter to the city council, Howells has also committed to bearing all excavation expenses and also pledges contributions to the city’s community. Notably, Ross highlighted that “external investors” are rallying behind Howells’ endeavor. “How would you feel if I was holding your property? Would you want it back? Would you try everything you could to get it back?” he asked during the interview. The man who lost 7,500 BTC at the dump said:
Do they want to spend £10,000 an hour to stop me [from] digging a hole? How can you explain that to the taxpayers of Newport in the current climate?
While the Odds of Recovery Are Slim, Recouping a 2013 Hard Drive Is Not Entirely out of the Realm of Possibility
The best-case scenario for a hard drive languishing in a landfill for a decade hinges on several fortuitous conditions. First, if the hard drive, by some stroke of luck, was encased in a protective covering or sealed bag when discarded, reducing exposure to the landfill’s corrosive elements.
Additionally, if it settled in an area with minimal moisture and chemical seepage, and wasn’t subjected to extreme pressures or temperatures, the device might have remained in a state of relative preservation. Now, even if the hard drive was retrieved in decent physical condition, data extraction remains a challenge. However, with the leaps in technology since 2013, state-of-the-art data recovery labs possess advanced techniques and equipment.
Should the hardware components show signs of degradation, experts might still be able to carefully replace or repair them, enhancing the prospects of successfully retrieving the stored data. The odds are long, but with the perfect alignment of conditions and expertise, it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility.
What do you think about James Howells’ plan to sue the city council if they don’t let him dig? Share your thoughts and opinions about this subject in the comments section below.