20100615 bp oil cleanup
A contract worker lifts up a piece of oil slick boom while working to clean oil from a beach June 15, 2010 in Grand Isle, Louisiana. - 

The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been called the largest environmental disaster in American history. This collection of photos illustrate the massive effort undeway to plug the leaking oil well, contain the further spread of oil, and begin a major environmental cleanup.

U.S. government scientists have estimated that the flow rate of oil gushing out of the ruptured oil well may be as high 40,000 barrels per day, a figure that has been revised over and over since a deep water oil rig operated by BP exploded in April and sunk.

Oil producer BP said that it plans to sell recovered oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, with profits going toward a wildlife protection fund.