Asbestos is the real danger at reportedly haunted hospital

21 Oct 2013 by under News

Molly Stark Hospital 2 100x100 Asbestos is the real danger at reportedly haunted hospitalParticularly around , park rangers, Sheriff’s deputies and maintenance workers in Canton, Ohio, have to ramp up efforts to keep trespassers and vandals out of an abandoned former hospital building. The deserted structure, which was built in the 1930s as a tuberculosis sanitarium and later operated as a hospital for the mentally ill, is rumored to be . But city officials say the real danger in the structure is asbestos.

The Molly Stark Hospital closed in 1995 and is now crumbling. The Republic reports inspections by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reveal levels of asbestos contamination so severe the agency recommends anyone entering the building wear a respirator.

Asbestos was used for decades in building, as insulation and as a fire retardant, before it was largely banned in the 1970s. It is not inherently dangerous, unless it is broken or crushed, when it releases microscopic asbestos fibers that can be deadly if inhaled or ingested. Asbestos exposure is linked to the development of mesothelioma, a deadly cancer that affects the lining of the lungs or the abdomen. There is no known cure for mesothelioma, and it may take as many as 30 years or more after exposure for asbestos disease to present symptoms.

Despite the danger, vandals, scrappers, the curious and ghost-hunters frequently enter the abandoned building. The property is owned by Stark County Parks. Its director, Robert Fonte, told the Canton Repository these break-ins occur as frequently as three or four times each week.

Fonte said his greatest worry is that someone might enter the property, fall and get hurt or killed. He tells the newspaper most of the trespassers are curious high-school age kids. The ghost-hunters, Fonte says, usually make formal requests to investigate the structure. Some ghost-curious groups simply want to observe the building from the outside, he said.

However, throughout October, the number of people trying to enter the building usually grows as the haunted myth coincides with Halloween pranks and parties. “It’s going to get worse this month,” Chief Park Ranger Dan George told the Canton Repository.

Todd Clark, who serves as the history programmer for Stark Parks, tells the newspaper the haunting history is a myth. He says many people confuse the building with another hospital, the old Massillon State psychiatric hospital, with ghost hunters saying they can hear the screams of former patients. Even if ghost hunters have their hospitals mixed up, it hasn’t dampened enthusiasm for the site as a possible haunted location. Clark tells the Repository, “When older buildings are abandoned and unused, they develop their own local lore.”

The building continues to sit empty since the parks department purchased the facility and its grounds from the county commission in 2009. The facility was deeded to the agency for $1; however costs to renovate or even demolish the building top $10 million, largely due to the asbestos problem. Asbestos must be removed by a licensed contractor, with specific protections in place and rules for its disposal. The parks department applied for a state grant to aid in the removal, but has not yet been able to secure funding.

There is a proposal in the works to turn the facility into a ghost-hunting tour site, which would help offset the costs of bringing the facility up to code, and generate revenue for the parks department. Greg Feketik, senior founder of a company called Tri-C Ghost Hunters, which operates a team of paranormal activity investigators in Cleveland, Columbus and Canton, Ohio, said a similar facility in nearby Mansfield, charges $70 per person for such tours. That facility, the Ohio State Reformatory, also has been featured on TV shows like the Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures,” and in other projects appealing to ghost hunters.


The Republic
Canton Repository

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