The high media attention given to the Gulf of Mexico oil well spill, and before that the grounding of the Shen Neng 1 on the Great Barrier Reef, highlight the necessity and complexities of sound environmental management, and the environmental and financial risks that our societies run in satisfying our fuel dependencies. The implications are international: oil and other natural resources are transported around the globe to the benefit of trading partners and investors or, as the US case is illustrating, at a cost to investors when things go wrong. However, it appears that the cost of making good the damage caused by such environmental disasters is never paid fully by the culpable party, but rather by local and national communities, and by the affected ecological communities. This is evident from the on-going analysis of the implications of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, and recently from the outcome of the oil spill from the Pacific Adventure on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. Clearly, substantially increased insurance premiums alone are not the solution, because they come into play post hoc, and ‘accidents’ will happen. Individual nations and the international community need to determine how they will manage the risks associated with materials transport.