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Louisville mayor reveals new plan to dispose of local home where police say a man made explosives

Two people in protective gear in front of a house with a brown door and gray stone exterior. There is overgrown vegetation around them and caution tape on the ground.
Courtesy of Louisville Metro Emergency Services
Officials say the house at 6213 Applegate Lane is unsafe for crews to work in and too crowded to accommodate robotic units. On Wednesday, Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg announced a new plan to safely dispose of the home.

Six weeks ago, city officials got people’s attention when they said they planned to do a controlled burn of the house at 6213 Applegate Lane. A new plan does not involve burning it down.

Police say a trained chemist, who was arrested in July, manufactured explosives in the Highview home. Local officials have been providing public updates on the lingering challenge of how to deal with the house, where they say hazardous substances remain.

Mayor Craig Greenberg originally said burning the house down was the “only option to safely proceed,” but that proposal attracted concerns from residents about whether it would put neighbors at risk or expose them to toxic chemicals.

After weeks of consultation, Greenberg announced Wednesday that the United States Environmental Protection Agency is finalizing plans to do a “controlled mechanical demolition” of the home instead.

That will involve using shipping containers to create a perimeter wall around the property. Then, Greenberg said, workers will use machinery to remove the roof and walls.

“And scoop by scoop, small amounts of material will be removed from the home, placed into a large steel container that is partially buried in the backyard of 6213 Applegate Lane, and the contents will be disposed of,” he said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

The EPA won’t rush this process, Greenberg said.

“Time is on our side, so EPA will be moving slowly to limit any risk to responders and to neighbors and the entire neighborhood,” he said.

Greenberg added that the city is keeping its original plan for a controlled burn on the table as an option “in case of an emergency.”

Once started, he said the whole demolition process should take less than a month. But it isn’t expected to begin before October.

Greenberg told reporters that city officials are working on robust safety preparations. That includes an evacuation plan for the neighborhood, but he doesn’t anticipate they’ll need to evacuate the area during the demolition unless there’s an unexpected emergency.

Morgan is LPM's health reporter. Email Morgan at mwatkins@lpm.org.