Sunland Trespassers at Risk

The myth and legend of Tallahassee's condemned Sunland hospital has drawn people to the site for more than two decades, but in recent weeks, police say trespassing will more than break the law; it's a hazard to your health.

A contractor is removing the asbestos inside the building, part of the reason it shut its doors in 1983, and that's where the health risk comes in.

Tallahassee police fear people aren't taking that threat seriously. Officers have issued as many as 60 trespassing warnings in the last few weeks.

Sunland Hospital sits quietly along the Blairstone Road curve, but it's what's inside that sparks the legends, supposedly of ghosts and strange happenings, but police and an air inspector say there is a real threat lurking behind these walls: asbestos.

Louis Barber, the air inspector for Southern Earth Sciences, said, "The levels we dealt with just going to the actual survey were very high where we had to be in suits and respirators."

A contractor has been working at the site for the last few weeks to remove asbestos so the building can eventually be torn down. Tallahassee police say an illegal look-see may not have been so dangerous before, but with asbestos particles now loose inside it's posing a huge health hazard to those who wander beyond the walls unprotected.

OFC David McCranie with the Tallahassee Police Department said, "The facility is contained and wrapped in plastic. They've been cutting through the plastic, it costs thousands of dollars to the construction company to replace the breaks in the fences and the plastic inside.”

The contractor says they've had to shell out about $20,000 to repair the breaks. They add the building does not pose a health risk to the surrounding area.

But police warn if you go inside you might not just walk away with a felony.

Louis Barber said, "You're talking about diseases that's going to strike you further on down the road, like meso, lung cancer, asbestosis."

A developer recently purchased the property from the state and this week, the city commission designated the area as a brown field, so the developer can use state dollars to clean up the contamination.

Phone calls to the developer were not returned. However, we took a look at the website that says upscale single family homes and office space are planned, lots starting at $229,000.