The BP Oil Spill And Deepwater Horizon Explosion: Two Years Later

This past Friday, April 20th wasn't just a day to sit around, pluck an out-of-tune guitar and get stoned. It also marked the two-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion and the beginning of the massive BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. One of the worst spills in U.S. history, its impacts are still felt today as fishermen haul in mutated fish and workers continue to clean up tourist beaches.

Here at Jalopnik we love all things cars, but we'd be remiss in our duties as journalists if we didn't discuss the behind the scenes issues attached liked oily barnacles to our beloved petroleum-burning toys. So let's walk through this timeline of the disaster and its aftermath — by way of Getty and Associated Press photos.

Although the 5,000-foot-deep gusher was plugged just shy of four months after British Petroleum's rig failed, biologists, fishermen and tourism businesses are still grappling with the effects of the 180 million gallon spill. (For reference, the largest American spill was the Lakeview Gusher in Kern County, Calif. in 1910. It dumped 378 million gallons of oil on arid land.) Locales in the five Gulf Coast states coated by BP's American petroleum have been dealt a crippling blow.

Dead marshes have led to wildlife habitat problems and more erosion along Louisiana's rapidly eroding coastline and a third of all the oil spilled hasn't yet been accounted for by recovery efforts. Although BP recently agreed to a $7.8 billion settlement with 100,000 or so fishermen whose livelihoods were affected by the spill, the company has yet to agree with the U.S. government on a projected value for all of the ecological harm caused by the spill. General consensus is that it will be in the billions — or enough to complete all of the restoration projects the region will need in the coming years.

Photo credit: Getty Images News

The BP Oil Spill And Deepwater Horizon Explosion: Two Years Later

April 21, 2010: U.S. Coast Guard fireboats battle the ferocious blaze caused by an explosion the previous day that killed 11 workers and launched the worst maritime oil spill in history. The owner of the rig — which was located about 50 miles southeast of Venice, La. — blamed BP for the explosion, citing faulty well design and construction.

Photo credit: AP/Gerald Herbert

The BP Oil Spill And Deepwater Horizon Explosion: Two Years Later

April 27, 2010: Venice, La. shrimping boats, docked for the duration of the cleanup. Forrest Gump would have been bummed — especially when he started fishing again, pulling up eyeless mutants instead of real shrimp.

Photo credit: AP/Gerald Herbert

The BP Oil Spill And Deepwater Horizon Explosion: Two Years Later

May 1, 2010: A dead sea turtle on the Louisiana Coast. The spill ravaged the Breton National Wildlife Refuge, which once formed part of this deceased reptile's habitat.

Photo credit:AP/Eric Gay

The BP Oil Spill And Deepwater Horizon Explosion: Two Years Later

May 5, 2010: A "controlled burn" of some of the oil spilled by the Deepwater Horizon rig disaster. According to Coast Guard figures, about 190 vessels, 160 miles of containment boom and 275,000 gallons of chemical dispersant had been used in cleanup efforts by the beginning of May 2010.

Photo credit:AP/U.S. Navy, Justin E. Stumberg

The BP Oil Spill And Deepwater Horizon Explosion: Two Years Later

June 7, 2010: This NASA Satellite image shows the oil slick, spreading across the mouth of the Mississippi River in the Gulf of Mexico. Oil had already washed ashore in Louisiana, eastern Alabama and northwest Florida.

Photo credit: AP/NASA

The BP Oil Spill And Deepwater Horizon Explosion: Two Years Later

June 11, 2010: Fisherman Allen Sreiy works with booms — used to contain surface oil slicks — on the deck of his shrimp boat in Bay Jimmy near Venice, La. Federal officials said that oily booms and debris made up 7 percent of the daily volume at a handful of local landfills.

Photo credit: AP/Charlie Neibergall

The BP Oil Spill And Deepwater Horizon Explosion: Two Years Later

July 2, 2010: Two days before July 4th — that most revered of all American holidays when we celebrate our Americanness by eating, drinking and blowing stuff up — a huge oily mess hung offshore from Orange Beach, Ala.

Photo credit: AP/Dave Martin)

The BP Oil Spill And Deepwater Horizon Explosion: Two Years Later

July 2, 2010: A BP official talks to workers cleaning up the beach in Gulf Shores, Ala., telling them what they can and can't say to the press. (I went to Grand Isle, La. in Aug. 2010, and many of the cleanup workers there — they worked 12-hour shifts — were so bored that they'd say pretty much anything if you hung around long enough and promised not to use their name/tell their bosses.)

Photo credit: AP/Dave Martin

The BP Oil Spill And Deepwater Horizon Explosion: Two Years Later

Sept. 16, 2010: When the economy's in tough shape, as it was in the summer of 2010, a job's a job. These lucky guys got to spend all day in the hot Louisiana sun, vacuuming oil out of the water.

Photo credit: AP/Patrick Semansky

The BP Oil Spill And Deepwater Horizon Explosion: Two Years Later

Sept. 27, 2010: EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson speaks at a National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Spill and Offshore Drilling meeting in Washington, telling them, in essence, what a mess the whole thing has been.

Photo credit: AP/Manuel Balce Ceneta

The BP Oil Spill And Deepwater Horizon Explosion: Two Years Later

Jan. 7, 2011: Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Secretary Robert Barham tours Louisiana's still oily Bay Jimmy. Wearing a concerned expression and holding a fistful of oily muck, he expressed his displeasure with the BP and Coast Guard-led cleanup effort.

Photo credit: AP/Gerald Herbert

The BP Oil Spill And Deepwater Horizon Explosion: Two Years Later

April 19, 2011: Madison Smith, a tourist from Cincinnati, soaks up some rays on the beach in Perdido Key, Fla. while cleanup workers look for remaining residue a year after the spill began. Who knows, maybe that stuff does the same thing as SPF 4 tanning oil, although I'd be wary about mixing it with chemical dispersants.

Photo credit: AP/Dave Martin

The BP Oil Spill And Deepwater Horizon Explosion: Two Years Later

April 11, 2012: Pelicans hover around the remains of Cat Island, in Plaquemines Parish, La. Before its mangroves died, Cat was more of an island, but the loss of vegetation there sped up erosion.

Photo credit: AP/Gerald Herbert