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Man accidentally threw away $127 million in bitcoin and officials won't allow a search

December 21st, 2017
Categories: Past News

Link: https://www.cnbc.com/2017/12/20/man-lost-127-million-worth-of-bitcoins-and-city-wont-let-him-look.html

James Howells, an IT worker in the United Kingdom, knows exactly where his misplaced 7,500 bitcoins are but the city council where he lives won't let him retrieve them. They say it's against the law.

According to a report published in The Telegraph, Howells began mining bitcoin on his personal laptop in 2009. He kept the drive he used to collect the bitcoins. While cleaning his home in 2013, he mistakenly put it into a waste bin at his local landfill site in Newport, South Wales, where it got buried.

Now, with bitcoin's value hovering just above $17,000 , Howells' 7,500 lost bitcoins are worth more than $127 million.

Four years' worth of garbage have poured into the dump since his mistake, would make recovery effort a significant undertaking. "A modern landfill is a complex engineering project and digging one up brings up environmental issues, dangerous gasses and potential landfill fires," Howells says. "It's a big, expensive and risky project."

Newport City Council won't allow it.

A council spokesperson said their offices have been "contactedabout the possibility of retrieving a piece of IT hardware said to contain bitcoins," but digging up, storing and treating the waste could cause a "huge environmental impact on the surrounding area."

The landfill contains 350,000 tons of waste, 50,000 more tons added every year.

Likely the hardware suffered corrosion due to the presence of landfill leachates and gases.

The operation could require specialty-construction vehicles, might cost millions. Howells has the "financial backing in place" to fund such an effort, he needs permission: The landfill not open to the public, trespassing a criminal offense.

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