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21 Disturbing Pictures From The Worst Environmental Disaster In US History

On this day eight years ago, the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig experienced an uncontrollable blowout, causing an explosion that killed 11 people and set off the most devastating environmental disaster in US history.

Posted on April 20, 2018, at 10:43 a.m. ET

Fire boats at the offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon, April 21, 2010.
US Coast Guard / Getty Images

Fire boats at the offshore oil rig Deepwater Horizon, April 21, 2010.

On April 20, 2010, off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico, BP's Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig experienced a catastrophic equipment failure, igniting an enormous fireball that killed 11 people and could be seen as far as 40 miles away.

In the days following the explosion, it became evident that a large-scale environmental disaster had occurred, as approximately 210 million gallons of oil spewed into the Gulf of Mexico. For 87 days, oil gushed freely into the waters, leaving the beaches unusable and killing thousands of animals and destroying wildlife habitats. While much of the oil has since been contained, the full impact of the spill on the environment is still largely unknown.

Here are some of the harrowing scenes from the largest oil spill in US history:

A boat makes its way through crude oil April 28, 2010.
Chris Graythen / Getty Images

A boat makes its way through crude oil April 28, 2010.

Peter Samson, a reporter for the Sun, puts his hand in an oil patch on the surface of Barataria Bay, June 2, 2010.
Julie Dermansky / Getty Images

Peter Samson, a reporter for the Sun, puts his hand in an oil patch on the surface of Barataria Bay, June 2, 2010.

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A dead dolphin in Plaquemines Parish alongside tar balls Aug. 5, 2010, more than 100 days after the oil disaster began.
Julie Dermansky / Getty Images

A dead dolphin in Plaquemines Parish alongside tar balls Aug. 5, 2010, more than 100 days after the oil disaster began.

Dead fish float in Robinson Bayou, Sept. 18, 2010.
Julie Dermansky / Getty Images

Dead fish float in Robinson Bayou, Sept. 18, 2010.

A public prayer vigil for the oil spill along Pensacola Beach on June 6, 2010, in Pensacola, Florida.
Joe Raedle / Getty Images

A public prayer vigil for the oil spill along Pensacola Beach on June 6, 2010, in Pensacola, Florida.

Oil is seen washing ashore June 26, 2010, in Orange Beach, Alabama.
Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Oil is seen washing ashore June 26, 2010, in Orange Beach, Alabama.

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George Ross, a Briggs employee from Aberdeen, Scotland, watches a controlled burn of spilled oil July 10, 2010.
David Neff / Getty Images

George Ross, a Briggs employee from Aberdeen, Scotland, watches a controlled burn of spilled oil July 10, 2010.

National Guard 711 Brigade Support Battalion installs barriers on the inside shore of the Dauphin Islands, May 2, 2010.
Orjan F. Ellingvag / Getty Images

National Guard 711 Brigade Support Battalion installs barriers on the inside shore of the Dauphin Islands, May 2, 2010.

One of 10 Kemp's ridley turtles recovered June 14, 2010, by a team of sea turtle experts from NOAA and the University of Florida who are working to recover oiled and endangered turtles in the Gulf of Mexico.
Carolyn Cole / Getty Images

One of 10 Kemp's ridley turtles recovered June 14, 2010, by a team of sea turtle experts from NOAA and the University of Florida who are working to recover oiled and endangered turtles in the Gulf of Mexico.

A dead armadillo in Waveland, Mississippi, April 7, 2011.
Julie Dermansky / Getty Images

A dead armadillo in Waveland, Mississippi, April 7, 2011.

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A dead fish coated in oil washed ashore on Grand Isle, one of Louisiana's barrier islands that provides natural protection to the marshlands, May 21, 2010.
Julie Dermansky / Getty Images

A dead fish coated in oil washed ashore on Grand Isle, one of Louisiana's barrier islands that provides natural protection to the marshlands, May 21, 2010.

Oil-covered brown pelicans found off the Louisiana coast wait in a holding pen for cleaning at the Fort Jackson Oiled Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Buras, Louisiana, June 11, 2010.
Saul Loeb / AFP / Getty Images

Oil-covered brown pelicans found off the Louisiana coast wait in a holding pen for cleaning at the Fort Jackson Oiled Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Buras, Louisiana, June 11, 2010.

A dead sea turtle in Waveland, Mississippi, painted red by the Institute for the Marine Mammal Studies so it won't be counted a second time, April 7, 2011.
Julie Dermansky / Getty Images

A dead sea turtle in Waveland, Mississippi, painted red by the Institute for the Marine Mammal Studies so it won't be counted a second time, April 7, 2011.

Workers use a vacuum hose to capture some of the oil washing ashore in Port Fourchon, Louisiana, June 27, 2010.
Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Workers use a vacuum hose to capture some of the oil washing ashore in Port Fourchon, Louisiana, June 27, 2010.

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Large amounts of oil on the shore at Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama, June 12, 2010.
Julie Dermansky / Getty Images

Large amounts of oil on the shore at Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge in Alabama, June 12, 2010.

Keith Jones holds a photo of his son Gordon Jones, who was killed in the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster, at his home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, May 8, 2010.
The Washington Post / Getty Images

Keith Jones holds a photo of his son Gordon Jones, who was killed in the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster, at his home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, May 8, 2010.

A controlled burn of oil sends towers of fire hundreds of feet into the air June 9, 2010.
David Neff / Getty Images

A controlled burn of oil sends towers of fire hundreds of feet into the air June 9, 2010.

A sign protesting the BP oil disaster is posted in Grand Isle, Louisiana, Sept. 4, 2010.
Julie Dermansky / Getty Images

A sign protesting the BP oil disaster is posted in Grand Isle, Louisiana, Sept. 4, 2010.

A memorial shows the many things lost due to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill June 6, 2010, in Grand Isle, Louisiana.
Win McNamee / Getty Images

A memorial shows the many things lost due to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill June 6, 2010, in Grand Isle, Louisiana.

An American flag stained with oil on Dauphin Island, Alabama, June 12, 2010.
Julie Dermansky / Getty Images

An American flag stained with oil on Dauphin Island, Alabama, June 12, 2010.

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