Atari E.T. landfill excavation back on track

Dig approved following environmental concerns

The proposed plan to dig up the New Mexico E.T. landfill site has finally been given the go-ahead by the environmental agency investigating its potential safety issues.

Production companies Fuel Entertainment, Xbox Entertainment Studios and LightBox Entertainment had previously requested permission to dig up the landfill in order to make a documentary based on the much maligned 1982 Atari 2600 title E.T., which is widely believed to be one of the causes of the 1983 game industry crash.


In March it was reported that the proposed excavation of the city's disused landfill had yet to be approved due to a lack of detailed information about the plan.

Specifically, the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) voiced concern over a 2004 study of the landfill which found elevated levels of several chemicals and claimed "22 compounds of concern" had been found at the site.

Now, however, the NMED has approved the dig as long as the three production companies adhere to a number of safety conditions.

Firstly, the NMED must be notified five working days before the excavation begins. Secondly, any company planning to haul the waste must register as a certified or commercial hauler of waste with the NMED before it can do so.

According to urban legend, anywhere from thousands to millions of cartridges were buried at the Alamogordo landfill then covered up, with at least nine semi trucks full of Atari products said to have been dumped at the site in 1983.