James Howells, a 38-year-old man from Newport City, is threatening to sue City Hall in his thirsty effort to recover the 8,000 BTC he lost 10 years ago. In an open letter sent to the city council on September 4, James Howells requests permission to begin excavation by September 18. Local authorities believe that excavating the landfill would be harmful to the environment.

James Howells, who lost 8,000 Bitcoin in a landfill, intends to sue the city for not allowing him to excavate the site in search of his lost fortune. After a decade of trying to get permission to recover his lost Bitcoin from Newport City Council, James Howells has reached the authority’s breaking point for his wealth.

Crypto Frustration at Its Finest

James Howells has spent a decade trying to mine his Bitcoin, but local authorities believe this would be harmful to the environment. The 38-year-old former IT professional has been at odds with Newport City Council for a decade, mobilizing a team of 16 to help recover the $194 million hard drive.

James Howells was frustrated by what he perceived as the council’s reluctance to engage in dialogue and said the local authority did not seem interested in resolving the matter without resorting to legal action. In an open letter sent to the city council on September 4, James Howells requests permission to begin excavation by September 18.

In January 2021, he presented them with a trac offer: 25% of the value of the BTC if they allowed him to dig to find the hard drive. That idea, however, fell on deaf ears.

Will Robot Dogs and AI Do the Job?

In 2022, James Howells proposed to local authorities an $11 million search that would take three years to complete. The budget was intended to cover artificial intelligence (AI) equipment, robot dogs and human labor.

The Bitcoin owner also pledged to give 60% of the recovered BTC to those who helped him in his excavation effort and to distribute $60 in Bitcoin to every dent in Newport, while keeping 30% for himself.

Howells is threatening to bankrupt the council with legal action, seeking compensation of $557m (£446m), which corresponds to the value of the lost Bitcoin at its peak price. Additionally, James Howells is calling for a review of the council’s decision to deny him access to the landfill over the last decade.

What Are the Odds for This Effort to Succeed?

The best case scenario for a hard drive to sit in a landfill for ten years is a series of fortunate circumstances. First, whether the hard drive was enclosed in a protective cover or sealed container when it was discarded, reducing its exposure to the corrosive elements of the landfill.

Even if the hard drive was recovered in reasonable physical condition, data tracing is still difficult. However, as a result of technological advancements since 2013, modern data recovery laboratories are equipped with sophisticated techniques and tools.

If hardware components show signs of deterioration, specialists may still be able to replace or repair them, thus increasing the likelihood of effectively recovering stored data. The odds are enormous, but with the right combination of conditions and knowledge, it is not completely impossible.

By Leonardo Pérez


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