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Bizarre search for notorious video game called off

Game catridges for the Atari console

ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (AP) -- New Mexico environmental regulators are blocking two companies from digging up an Alamogordo landfill in search of a rumored cache of what some consider the worst Atari video game of all time.

Game cartridges for "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial," based on Steven Spielberg's blockbuster hit film, were reportedly dumped in the landfill in the 1980s, according to the Alamogordo Daily News ( http://bit.ly/1kLNXjD ).

New Mexico Environment Department spokesman Jim Winchester said Wednesday an approved waste excavation plan, or WEP, is needed before any dig can begin.

"A WEP must be approved in advance of any excavation, and that includes even the city of Alamogordo," Winchester said.

Alamogordo city commissioners approved the search in June. However, Winchester said state environmental officials have control of the WEP's final approval, and it was rejected Feb. 27. The companies haven't yet submitted a new one, Winchester said.

Fuel Entertainment and LightBox Interactive recently announced plans to search the landfill for the game that proved a financial drain for Atari. The companies plan to record the dig for a documentary to be released by Microsoft Corp. for the Xbox One console. Filmmakers have even offered fans the chance to enter a giveaway of anything that might be unearthed.

Catherine Pasciak, a producer for LightBox, said the company still plans to travel to Alamogordo, if and when the project gets approval. The filmmakers have already shot some interviews, she said.

A spokesman for Fuel declined to comment.

Atari paid Steven Spielberg tens of millions of dollars to license the wildly popular 1982 movie's name, and game developers completed the project in just six weeks. In the game, the player takes on the role of the titular alien and tries to elude FBI agents while collecting pieces of a telephone to call E.T.'s spaceship.

The end result was a huge commercial dud that caused the troubled company's worth to sink even further.

Atari purportedly disposed of millions of game cartridges and other equipment by the truckload at the landfill. The area's supposed role as a gaming burial ground has snowballed into mythic status over the years.

The landfill was first used as a dumping ground in the 1920s but has been closed since the late 1980s, officials said.

A 2004 study found elevated levels of several chemicals in the landfill, prompting the New Mexico Environment Department to request further testing. Test results found "22 compounds of concern," according to the agency.


Information from: Alamogordo Daily News, http://www.alamogordonews.com

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crowwwwwww March 21 2014 at 12:12 PM

And once again, the environmental department comes to the rescue

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Angela March 21 2014 at 11:21 AM

I have that forthe Atari 2600 in my basement!

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j92978 March 21 2014 at 7:54 AM

I'm pretty sure I have that game in the attic along with about 20 others and a Collico (spelling) Vision gaming system with Atari attachment that actually still works. hahahaha Hated the ET game but loved all the others!

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1 reply
jbaer10314 j92978 March 21 2014 at 8:32 AM

It's spelled C-O-L-E-C-O.

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Michael Paul March 21 2014 at 8:53 AM

This is no joke! It really happened. I was in high school in Alamogordo when this occurred. Friends of mine were literally going to the dump and picking up what was being dumped. Word spread through our school when it was happening, and people I know went out and scored these games. If the searchers really want to find copies of the old games and systems, they just need to find some of my peers and see if they still have them.
This is hilarious that an old high school memory of mine has come back to become news . . . LOL! You can imagine that I started reading the article in a bored way . . . then started thinking, "Hey that happened in my town too!" . . . then saw the tagline with the story location (Alamogordo) and about fell out of my chair. Then, LOLOLOL.

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1 reply
savannahswithgod Michael Paul March 21 2014 at 9:57 AM

Gee I wish I had gone to High School with you. Your doing pretty good if you can fall out of a chair! Never know what is in a toxic dump, do you?

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Tony and Laurel March 21 2014 at 9:26 AM

I wonder if you need a WEP when somebody claims bodies are buried; or maybe 5 tons of cocaine; or how about Jimmy Hoffa???

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stevechambers2 March 21 2014 at 9:33 AM

It's common sense there is a lot of Gold in those cartridges.I would like to have them to recover the Gold off the old circuit boards!

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gkraft77 March 21 2014 at 10:12 AM

E.T. was my least favorite Atari game. Pitfall #1! :)

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irv0870 March 21 2014 at 3:58 PM

got that game along with about 50 more and the original Atari console!

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1 reply
lgvillari irv0870 March 21 2014 at 4:24 PM

do you still have a my space account too, Irv?

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1 reply
reakemble lgvillari March 21 2014 at 7:13 PM

is that site even still up?

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kyddinomte March 21 2014 at 10:36 AM

I still have my Atari set with all the games from the 80's. Don't know why I kept them. No need to dig in the trash dump.

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Vinman March 21 2014 at 2:04 PM

My take on this is " Let Them Be "! Especially if they are full of chemicals that could be deadly
to somebody's health. Is it really worth it ?

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