By Sam Bojarski

When Kim Mullins and her husband downsized in 2011, they moved to Orchard Estates, a community of manufactured homes in Beaver County.

The couple moved there from Cranberry Township in 2011, drawn to the safety and convenience of the relatively rural community in Economy Borough. Now she feels some of these qualities have been compromised.

“First of all, we are planning on moving,” said Mullins, 72, citing concerns over hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, planned fewer than a thousand feet from Orchard Estates. “I don’t want this in my neighborhood.”

She’s worried about the health consequences. She and her husband feel like prisoners in their own home, and she’s concerned she won’t even be able to take her dogs outside for fear that future pollution could cause nosebleeds.

For fracking wells, state law requires a minimum setback distance of 500 feet from occupied buildings, unless the owner consents to a shorter distance. Protect Franklin Park recommended a half-mile setback, citing a peer-reviewed study published by the University of Chicago and Princeton University. The study found increased risk of low birth weights for infants born to mothers who live very close to fracking sites.

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